Iranian prosecutor asks for seizure of tycoon’s wealth in corruption case
İpek Yezdani - TEHRAN
DHA PhotoThe deputy prosecutor has said asked the seizure of all wealth of Babek Zanjani, an Iranian businessman currently imprisoned in Iran on corruption charges who is also connected to Turkey’s massive 2013 graft case, claiming that Zanjani committed swindling and money laundering crimes in Turkey, Malaysia, Tajikistan and the UAE.
He has been accused of swindling the Iranian state $2.8 billion in his hearing, which started last weekend.
The deputy prosecutor has asked for the seizure of all his wealth, even his assets, which were allegedly transferred to other people after Zanjani had been arrested, in line with the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the case’s third hearing.
The deputy prosecutor said the swift system came to an end after sanctions had been imposed on Iran’s oil industry by the United States and Europe.
“No companies bought our oil, took any of our oil tankers under insurance coverage or allowed money transactions. Some representatives of [the state’s] oil company wanted to sell oil through Babek Zanjani. They gave $2.3 million worth of oil to his company Zanjani … However, he deceived them and claimed it was impossible to make money transfers due to sanctions. He then opened an account at a bank in Malaysia for a company, initialed as H.K., and stole the people’s money on this account. This has created a big problem for Iran,” said the prosecutor.
Judge Ebul Kasım Salawati said Zanjani had sent a warrant letter to the court through his foreign advocates, saying he would repay all his debts to Iran’s National Oil Company. Salawati noted that this payment would be made by Zanjani’s foreign advocates through a company, known as H.K.
The two other defendants in the case are also facing charges of complicity in money laundering, forgery and fraud.
The deputy prosecutor also read criminal charges against Zanjani’s former business partners, known by the initials H.F.H. and M.S.H. He claimed that M.S.H. spent some $235 million of Iran’s oil money to buy stakes in Turkey’s Onur Air, which was sold in May 2013 to Kudret Tuncel and a Dubai-based British citizen, Mehdi Shams, for a reported $250 million. It was claimed the real owner was Zanjani’s Qaeshm Air airlines in Iran, but this claim was refuted by both sides. It was later claimed that the former owner of Onur Air bought the company back in May 2015 for a lower price.