Iranian Prosecutor General and Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei says Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani has been arrested on alleged corruption charges.
Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani
cartoon by Mohammad Tahani, Arman daily
The Monday arrest comes after 12 Iranian lawmakers accused Babak Zanjani of corruption, calling for an inquiry into his financial activities in a letter to the heads of the three branches of the Iranian government.
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 the UAE-based Sorinet group, Qeshm Airlines and Rah Ahan Football Club in Iran.
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.
Some other lawmakers believe 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.
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