Al-Monitor | : Turkish-Iranian business tycoon Reza Zarrab’s testimony in a US court has received extensive coverage in Iranian media; however, this coverage doesn’t stem from his real charge in the United States, which is bypassing the sanctions against Tehran, but rather because he has been linked to a controversial billionaire tycoon who is now in jail in Iran: Babak Zanjani.
Prior to reaching a deal over its nuclear program in 2015, Iran and its oil industry were under heavy sanctions. Sanctions were circumvented through middlemen who arranged oil exports and received the money instead of the government in Tehran. Zanjani was one of the most important middlemen; he made a lot of money and lived luxuriously. One report even said he was the 65th richest man on earth, with an estimated wealth of $13.5 billion. However, Iran’s Oil Ministry filed a lawsuit against him for not paying back money owed to the ministry from oil exports, and Zanjani was jailed and sentenced to death.
Amir Abbas Soltani, a former Iranian lawmaker and a former member of the parliamentary committee tasked with pursuing the Zanjani case, said Zarrab is “the black box” of Zanjani’s case.
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