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Iran lawmakers accuse billionaire Zanjani of corruption


Source: Press TV

Twelve Iranian parliamentarians have accused Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani of corruption, calling for an inquiry into his financial activities, Press TV reports. The Iranian parliamentarians made the request through a letter to the heads of the three branches of the Iranian government.

Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani
Source: Aseman magazine

Experts say Babak Zanjani's estimated net worth is around USD 13.8 billion. The corporate mogul, aged nearly 40, owns and operates many holdings and companies, including UAE-based Sorinet group, Qeshm Airlines and Rah Ahan Football Club in Iran.

So far, Iranian judiciary officials say no corruption case has been referred to them by the parliament's Article 90 Commission, which is tasked with receiving complaints about the performance of the three branches of government.

According to Head of Iran's Supreme Audit Court Amin-Hossein Rahimi, Zanjani's role in the course of transferring the country's oil revenues involved breach of law.

"After sanctions were imposed against the National Iranian Oil Company, Iran had to export oil and they gave Babak Zanjani the task of exporting some of this oil worth around USD 3.0003 billion. The problem is that they were supposed to get collateral from him by law and this was not done. This is a violation," Rahimi said in a press conference.

Some parliamentarians agree that simply putting this much money at the disposal of one individual without any collateral is unacceptable and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet had had better alternatives.

"I understand that the sanctions were imposed against the country's oil industry, but there were better ways than just depositing this much money into Babak Zanjani's account. There should have been a representative from one of the supervisory bodies such as Majlis to oversee the issue. I believe this is a violation of our laws," said Iranian lawmaker Abdolreza Azizi.

Some other lawmakers believe that Zanjani is part of a mafia that makes financial benefits out of the sanctions imposed against Iran.

"Zanjani is not alone. There is a network of individuals. They are getting rich out of people's misery caused by sanctions. There is corruption here," said Iranian legislator Mohammad Reza Tabesh.

Meanwhile, Spokesman for Iranian Parliament's Legal and Judicial Commission Mohammad Ali Esfenani argued that accusing any person before he or she is convicted in a court of law is illegal.

"Under the law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. In my opinion, it is okay to talk about a person, but to accuse him of a crime without proof is illegal. If he is guilty, it must be proven in the court," Esfenani noted.

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