Iran Ministry to Own Billionaire’s Assets

The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran has accepted to let the Ministry of Petroleum take over assets of billionaire Babak Zanjani who has been sentenced to death for embezzlement.

“The Prosecutor’s Office, as per the most recent views of a team of experts, agreed with the transfer of the convict’s assets worth 20 trillion rials ($642 million) to the Ministry of Petroleum,” Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dowlatabadi was quoted as saying.

Prosecutors had accused Zanjani of owing the government more than $2.7 billion for oil sold on behalf of the Ministry of Petroleum and not returning the money.

In March, the court of first instance convicted Zanjani and two accomplices of “spreading corruption on earth,” and sentenced them to death. The three defendants were also ordered to repay funds embezzled from the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and other state organizations.

The tycoon once told an Iranian magazine that he amassed a fortune of $10 billion along with debts of a similar scale by arranging deals through a network of companies stretching from Turkey to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

Officials have said most of Zanjani’s assets are outside Iran in Turkey, Tajikistan and elsewhere, presenting a serious challenge to the country to repatriate them.

Jafari-Dawlatabadi said the Iranian Foreign Ministry was being asked to use its good offices and press Tajikistan and Turkey on helping return the assets.

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