Iranian tycoon sentenced to death for corruption linked to oil sales
An Iranian court has sentenced a well-known tycoon to death for corruption linked to oil sales during the rule of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Babak Zanjani and two of his associates were sentenced to death for "money laundering," among other charges, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said. He did not identify the two associates. Previous state media reports have said the three were charged with forgery and fraud.
"The court has recognised the three defendants as 'corruptors on earth' and sentenced them to death," said Mr Ejehi.
"Corruptors on earth" is an Islamic term referring to crimes that are punishable by death because they have a major impact on society. The verdict, which came after a nearly five-month trial, can be appealed.
A news website run by the judiciary identified the two associates as British-Iranian businessman Mahdi Shams, who was detained in 2015, and the other as Hamid Fallah Heravi, a retired businessman.
Zanjani was arrested in 2013 during a crackdown on alleged corruption during Mr Ahmadinejad's rule. Iran's Oil Ministry says Zanjani owes more than 2 billion euros (£1.5bn) for oil sales he made on behalf of Mr Ahmadinejad's government.
Zanjani is one of Iran's wealthiest businessmen, with a fortune worth an estimated 14 billion dollars (£11bn). He was arrested shortly after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who ordered a crackdown on alleged corruption during the eight-year rule of his hard-line predecessor.
Iran has in the past executed other wealthy individuals found guilty of similar charges. In 2014, Iran executed billionaire businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi over corruption charges.