Al Monitor | : Shortly after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call on officials to uproot corruption, the Iranian judiciary announced perhaps the largest embezzlement case in the country’s history involving some 6.6 billion euros ($7.4 billion).
Similar to other major embezzlement scandals in recent years — such as the one centered on businessman Babak Zanjani, who is now awaiting execution — the current case relates to murky schemes to bypass sanctions imposed by then US President Barack Obama. Over a dozen executives and board members of petrochemical companies are accused of financial crimes dating back to 2010-13, the final years of previous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Eleven of the main suspects are in custody, while three others are reportedly abroad and will be tried in absentia.
To evade sanctions, the suspects allegedly set up outside of Iran companies that sold petrochemical goods to foreign customers. The suspects are accused of “disrupting Iran’s economic system” by profiteering from the country’s multitiered exchange rate regime. A senior judiciary official stated at a March 7 hearing, “Despite the numerous letters [from] the Minister of Oil … to the defendants that the foreign currency [proceeds] must be paid in full … the defendants did not pay any attention … and seized a portion of the foreign currency.”
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