Iran arrests business tycoon over corruption scandal

Tehran, Jan 5: Iran has arrested billionaire tycoon Babak Zanjani over financial corruption scandal, media reported Saturday.

“Zanjani was arrested so that he could not flee the country,” Prosecutor General and Judiciary spokesperson Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei was quoted as saying by Tehran Times daily, Xinhua reported.

A number of Iranian lawmakers recently sent a letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary calling for an inquiry into Zanjani’s financial activities.

Since 2010, Zanjani “has used a web of more than 60 companies based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey and Malaysia to sell millions of barrels of Iranian oil on behalf of the government, generating billions of US dollars of revenue, the daily said in a report.

He also owns and operates the UAE-based Sorinet Group, the Iranian Qeshm Airlines and the Rah Ahan Sorinet F.C. in Iran.

Zanjani’s arrest earlier this week came following Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks that his government will fight privileges of some people who took advantage of sanctions against the country.

Inside Iran, Zanjani has been accused of withholding part of money from oil sales. However, he said that the international sanctions had prevented him from transferring money into the country.

Zanjani has been blacklisted by the European Union on the grounds of what was stated as “assisting designated entities to violate the provisions of the EU regulation on Iran and is providing financial support to the government of Iran.” His accounts were also frozen by the US Treasury in April 2013 for taking measures to circumvent sanctions against Iran.

Zanjani was claimed to be “a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money.”

IANS