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News | 4 Death Sentences in $2.6B Bank Fraud; Case Opened on Larijani Brother

31 Jul 2012 04:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

4:30 a.m. IRDT, 10 Mordad/July 31 Thirty-nine defendants have been convicted by an Iranian court of involvement in a $2.6 billion bank fraud that roiled the Islamic Republic's government last autumn. Four of those convicted have received death sentences; none of their names has been publicly revealed, as is true of most of the other defendants. Professor Muhammad Sahimi, a frequent contributor to Tehran Bureau, spoke Monday with PRI's The World about the case:

MohseniEjeiJuly302012.jpgPress TV, the English-language subsidiary of state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, reported on the case in the following fashion:
Iran's judiciary spokesman says a Tehran court has sentenced to death four people convicted in the biggest embezzlement case in the country's banking history.

"Of 39 defendants, whose charges were heard, the court's judge has sentenced four to death and two others to life imprisonment. The remaining defendants received prison terms of 25 years, 20 years, 10 years, and less," Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei [pictured Monday at left] was quoted by IRNA [Islamic Republic News Agency] as saying on Monday.

The first court session in Iran's biggest bank fraud case was held on February 18.

The defendants were charged with misappropriating a total of USD 2.6 billion of funds by using forged documents to obtain credit from banks to purchase state-owned companies.

According to the indictment, the owners of the Aria Investment Development Company, which is at the center of the controversy, had bribed bank managers to get loans and letters of credit. The company has more than 35 affiliates which are active in diverse business activities.

Seven state-owned and private Iranian banks are said to be involved in the fraud case.

Former CEO of Iran's Melli Bank Mohammad Reza Khavari, who is one of the main suspects in the case, escaped justice after the scam was revealed.

Late last September, within a day after leaving his post as chief of Iran's largest bank, Khavari fled to Canada, where he and other members of his family hold dual citizenship.

MJLarijaniJamaran.jpg The Iranian Students News Agency reports that a criminal case has been opened against Mohammad Javad Larijani, the elder brother of Majles Speaker Ali Larijani and the chief of Iran's judicial system, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani. Currently the head of the judiciary's human rights council, Mohammad Javad Larijani has previously served as a Majles representative and a deputy minister of foreign affairs. Ali Reza Avayi, Tehran province's chief prosecutor, stated that the case involves illegal land profiteering. According to a report from Azerbaijan's Trend News Agency,
Prior to opening the case, Avayi spoke to Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who urged the prosecutor to continue investigation.

"He said that there should be no exceptions regarding such issues, and the investigation on the case should continue. He noted that if a basis exists, a case should be opened," Avayi said of talks with Sadegh Larijani.

Some time ago, Bamdad-e Khabar website released a report on land speculation. It alleged that Mohammad Javad Larijani has illegally seized 342 hectares [845 acres] of protected land.

The powerful Larijani brothers have long been political adversaries of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Last November, in a speech to a group of supporters in Tehran, Ahmadinejad, while discussing his differences "with the heads of the other two branches of the political system" -- Ali and Sadegh Larijani -- made a cutting reference to "land around Tehran that someone has taken over."

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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