Top Ahmadinejad aide indicted on corruption in connection to businessman Zanjani
Babak Zanjani’s name emerged in Turkey’s graft probe as the alleged partner of Iranian-origin businessman and gold dealer Reza Zarrab. DHA photoIranian authorities have opened an investigation looking into the ties between former vice-President Mohammed Reza Rahimi and businessman Babak Zanjani, who was arrested after being accused of corruption.
The fresh investigation comes as a major development as Rahimi, who was considered Ahmadinejad’s top aide and served as a vice president between 2009 and 2013, was previously accused of being the head of a corruption ring that became known as the “Fatemi circle,” although he categorically denied the claims while still on duty.
Zanjani’s name also emerged in Turkey’s graft probe as the alleged partner of Iranian-origin businessman and gold dealer Reza Zarrab, the key suspect in the case, who is accused of illegal transfers of gold to Iran in exchange for money via state-run Halkbank.
Currently the head of the Sorinet Group, Zanjani was arrested Dec. 31, 2013, following a call from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iranian authorities to speed up the investigation. Besides his company in Iran, the 40-year-old Iranian businessman owns and operates many overseas holdings and companies in the finance, banking, tourism, infrastructure, construction, real estate and aviation sectors in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Malaysia and China.
Iranian investigators have allegedly discovered evidence that links Rahimi to Zanjani and extended the investigation to one of the figures that caused the most controversy under the administration of Ahmadinejad in Iran.
Current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri told Iranian media March 17 that the dimension of corruption was unprecedented. He said billions of dollars have been transferred to Zanjani’s off-shore accounts to "pay shadowy oil contractors." "His income from the sale of oil has never been returned to the state treasury,” Jihangiri said.
Jihangiri has been appointed by executive order as the lead investigator into inside Zanjani's dealings. Tehran has also sent a judicial delegation to Turkey to probe Zanjani’s overseas assets.