UK & World News
Iran Hangs Billionaire Over $2.6bn Bank Fraud
A billionaire Iranian businessman convicted of masterminding a $2.6bn (£1.5bn) banking scam has reportedly been hanged in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
Mahafarid Amir Khosravi was sentenced to death after being convicted of "corruption on earth... through bribery and money laundering", a justice department statement carried by Iranian media said.
Khosravi's lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, was quoted by news website khabaronline.ir as saying that his client was put to death without any notice.
"I had not been informed about execution of my client," Riahi said. "All the assets of my client are at the disposal of the prosecutor's office."
Revelations about the scandal swept Iran in 2011 when prosecutors said they uncovered a private umbrella group, led by Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, and his brothers, illegally amassing billions of dollars.
The case is said by prosecutors to be the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Over the space of two years, Amir Mansour Aria Development Co. bought some 40 companies including state-owned companies like major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co, and a football club.
They were said to have used forged letters of credit obtained from several major banks whose managers they had bribed.
A total of 39 defendants were convicted in the case. Four received death sentences, two got life sentences and the rest received sentences of up to 25 years in prison.
Mahmoud Reza Khavari, a former head of Bank Melli, a major Iranian bank, escaped to Canada in 2011 after he resigned over the case.
He faces charges over the case in Iran and remains on the Islamic Republic's wanted list. Khavari previously admitted that his bank partially was involved in the fraud, but has maintained his innocence.
The case took on political dimensions when the finger was pointed at some senior officials in the administration of then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mr Ahmadinejad, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform, dismissed the attacks as a smear campaign by his opponents.