First Published: 2017-12-09

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail
Former head of Iran's largest state-owned bank given 20-year prison sentence, $6 million fineover record-breaking $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal.
Middle East Online

Scandal saw fingers pointed at senior officials in Ahmadinejad's administration.

TEHRAN - The former head of Iran's largest state-owned bank, who fled to Canada over a record-breaking $2.6 billion embezzlement scandal, has been given a 20-year prison sentence and $6 million fine in absentia, the judiciary said on Saturday.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Bank Melli, took refuge in Canada, where he has citizenship, after the scandal broke in 2011.

Moosa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, told the conservative Fars news agency that Khavari had been sentenced to 20 years for "disrupting the economic system" and 10 years for bribery, to run concurrently.

Each charge carried a $3 million fine, and the verdict was still open to appeal.

Khavari obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, and Canada does not have an extradition agreement with Iran.

The scam, described as the largest in Iran's history, was uncovered by prosecutors during the tenure of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Prosecutors found a private group named Amir Mansour Aria Development Co. had bought 40 companies, including a major steel mill, with forged letters of credit obtained from major banks whose managers had been bribed.

They amassed an estimated 30 billion rials ($2.6 billion).

The group was run by businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, who was hanged in 2014 on charges of "corruption on earth... through bribery and money laundering".

His brother Mehrgan Amir Khosravi is also on the run and on Interpol's wanted list.

At least 20 people were arrested in Iran, including the head of the state-owned Bank Saderat, Said Kiani-Rezazadeh, who was also sentenced to death but is thought to still be in prison.

Khavari fled the country in September 2011, first travelling to Britain under the guise of a work trip before heading to Canada.

His assets in Iran include a house which has been seized, but it "does not suffice" to compensate for his reported thefts, a lawyer involved in the case told the ISNA news agency last month.

The case took on political dimensions when the finger was pointed at senior officials in Ahmadinejad's administration, which he dismissed as a smear campaign.

Ahmadinejad, who has fallen out of favour with the establishment, has accused the judiciary in recent weeks of politically motivated cases against his allies, and continues to level his own corruption allegations against key members of the government.


Erdogan says Afrin city centre under ‘total’ control

Syrian regime retakes two towns from Ghouta rebels

Israel blasts Gaza underground tunnel

Egypt tries to contain Sudan but challenges, suspicions remain

Iraqis flock to flea market for relics of bygone era

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis

Abu Dhabi awards France's Total stakes in oil concessions

US defence secretary presses Oman on Iran weapons smuggling

Hamas shutters mobile firm after Gaza attack on PM

Israel punishes family members of West Bank attacker

Syria opposition says UN 'failed to prevent' Assad 'crimes'

UK tries to soothe Egyptian anger over mob attack death

Hundreds of thousands flee in dual Syria assaults

Turkish Cypriots vow to stand firm in gas dispute

Intensifying assaults in Syria spark dual evacuations

Tearful reunions, uncertain fates for Syrians fleeing Ghouta

Iran deal signatories meet as Trump deadline looms

Thirty years on, Kurds remember Halabja massacre

Air India says will fly over Saudi airspace to Tel Aviv

UN chief calls for end to Lebanese 'meddling' in Syria

Turkey seeks jail for journalists opposing government

UN says civilians trapped, used as 'human shields' in Afrin

Iran, Russia, Turkey hold Syria talks in Astana

Civilians killed in Turkish fire on Syria's Afrin

US Defense Secretary says Iran 'mucking around' in Iraq elections

No room for debate in Egyptian elections

Thousands flee Syria's Ghouta after month-long bombardment

Israel closes migrant detention centre in expulsion plan

UN security council says Yemen conditions 'devastating' for civilians

Crown prince says if Iran gets nuclear bomb, so will Saudi Arabia

UNRWA chief says agency needs urgent funds by summer

Turkey to host Syria summit on April 4 with Russia, Iran

Turkey journalists protest for colleague after 500 days in prison

UN says Syria regime forces using rape as wide-scale weapon

Turkey expects to take Afrin centre in ‘very short time’

Israel attacks Hamas posts in Gaza

Kuwaitis flock to get hands on rare ‘desert truffle’

Egypt expects tourism upsurge ahead of vote

Syrian lawyer that negotiated Raqa IS deal found dead

Convoy of food aid enters Syria’s Ghouta

Qatar’s BeIN media slams Egypt court fine

Syrian war enters eighth year

Qatar spends 3 billion on military helicopters