The downfall of two Iranian tycoons

TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian tycoons Babak Zanjani and Reza Zarrab are now both finding themselves in dire straits. Zanjani, one of the most well-known magnates in Iran, has been sentenced to death for allegedly not paying back money owed to the Oil Ministry from oil exports he arranged under the sanctions era. Zarrab, an Iranian-born businessman who only years ago was exonerated of alleged bribery, corruption and being involved in a smuggling racket that involved several Turkish Cabinet members, is now in detention in the United States under money laundering charges, among other allegations. He was arrested in Florida on March 19 over an indictment filed in federal court in Manhattan.

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Amir Abbas Soltani, an Iranian lawmaker and a member of the parliamentary committee tasked with pursuing the Zanjani case, claims Zarrab traveled to the United States on purpose in order to get caught. Soltani said, “There is no difference between Zarrab and Zanjani. Plus, Zarrab is an important person, the key figure to this [Zanjani] corruption case.”

“Zarrab intentionally visited the US and surrendered himself based on a premeditated plan. Following Zanjani’s case in Iran, he sensed a lurking threat awaiting him. He thought he would be captured by Iranian officials if he stayed in Turkey,” Soltani told Al-Monitor.

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This article was written by Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor on May 9, 2016. Rohollah Faghihi is a journalist who has worked for various Iranian media organizations including the Entekhab news site.