Iran sentences four people to death for bank fraud
By Yeganeh Torbati
DUBAI (Reuters) - An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for a billion-dollar bank fraud that tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state media reported on Monday.
Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring inflation, were shocked by the scale of the $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement that was exposed last year and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite or with their assent.
Of the thirty-nine people tried for the fraud - the biggest in the Islamic Republic's history - four were sentenced to hang, the IRNA state news agency reported.
"According to the sentence that was issued, four of the defendants in this case were sentenced to death," prosecutor general Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told IRNA.
Two people were sentenced to life and others received jail sentences of up to 25 years, Mohseni-Ejei said. In addition to jail time, some were sentenced to flogging, ordered to pay fines and banned from government jobs.
Mohseni-Ejei did not name the defendants and Iranian media have identified them only by their initials. State television broadcast parts of the trial but blurred out the faces of the accused.
The man described by Iranian media as the mastermind of the scheme, businessman Amir Mansoor Khosravi, is said to have forged letters of credit from Iran's Bank Saderat to fund dozens of companies and buy a state-owned steel factory.
Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Iran's biggest bank, state-owned Bank Melli, resigned over the affair and fled to Canada where records show he owns a $3 million home, Iranian and Canadian news agencies reported. Continued...