Iran tightens noose on corrupt tycoons

Al-Monitor – The long arm of the Iranian law seems to be reaching individuals accused of misusing political connections for personal profit at a time when the economy is under severe strain due to mismanagement at home and reimposed US sanctions.

The latest in a series of “special trials” opened in the past year was that of Hossein Hedayati, also known among Iranians as the “ATM” of the country’s soccer clubs. The business tycoon was handed a 20-year jail term and 70 lashes in public as well as a ban from public service and ordered to repay 4.88 trillion rials ($116.2 million) in loans he illegally received from Sarmayeh Bank, a private enterprise that has been posting enormous losses.

Whopping loans from the same bank also implicate Hadi Razavi, the son-in-law of top Reformist politician and current Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari, in blatant nepotism. Razavi’s ongoing public trial has grabbed tremendous media attention due to the nature of his alleged corruption and the comments he has made in the proceedings. Aside from refusal to repay 1.07 trillion rials ($25.5 million) in loans, prosecutors say, the 35-year-old wasted public funds during trips he made across Europe along with his female secretary, a charge Razavi denies, insisting that his visits to Germany, Austria and elsewhere were not for leisure.

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