Iran court sentences four to death over bank scam
An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death and given two more life sentences on charges linked to a $2.6bn (€2.1bn) bank fraud described as the biggest financial scam in the country's history, an official said yesterday.
The trial, which began in February, involved some of the country's largest financial institutions and raised uncomfortable questions about corruption at senior levels in Iran's tightly controlled economy.
But few specific details have been released, possibly to avoid exposing too much internal scandal while Iran's leaders seek to assure the country it can ride out tightening sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.
Prosecutors only referred to the linchpin defendant by a nickname and have provided just general information about his purported business empire. The main charges included using forged documents to get credit at one of Iran's top banks.
The official IRNA news agency said a total of 39 defendants received sentences, including four death sentences, two life terms and the rest of up to 25 years in prison. Officials, including deputy ministers in the government, were among those sentenced.
The main defendant, referred to by the nickname 'Amir Mansour Aria', was among those charged with a potential capital offence.
In February, state TV said he was accused of being "corrupt on earth," an Iranian legal term that means that the defendant is an enemy of God, and which in practice is a catch-all term for a variety of offences. The charge carries the death penalty.
'Aria' pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged that he has violated some laws, the Iranian media said.