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Local billionaire arrested on corruption charges in Iran

December 31, 2013, 10:46 UTC+3

Babak Zanjani is included in US and EU black lists

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TEHRAN, December 31. /ITAR-TASS/. Billionaire Babak Zanjani, Sorinet Group CEO has been arrested on Monday evening in Iran. Authorities accuse him of causing losses to the state by financial fraud and corruption. As reported on Tuesday by leading Iranian media, he is currently placed in the Evin jail in Tehran.

Zanjani is well known in western countries: the US and EU have included him in the black list of persons contributing to the neutralization of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic because of its nuclear program, including in areas such as oil trade and banking.

Press-TV broadcaster reports that one of the reasons for the billionaire’s arrest became embezzlement of funds received by Zanjani from sale of oil bypassing the sanctions regime. Head of Iran’s Supreme Audit Court Amin-Hossein Rahimi stated in an interview with the TV outlet that the National Iranian Oil Company is also partly guilty, since it instructed the billionaire to sell oil worth $3 billion. Meanwhile, the National Iranian Oil Company’s leadership did not oblige him to provide financial guarantees of returning the funds obtained, which is “breach of law”, the attorney said.

In April 2013, US Finance Ministry accused Zanjani of derogation of the sanctions regime against Iran by means of underhand dealing with oil export and money funds of Iranian government. Similar claims has the European Union.

Meanwhile, Zanjani brushed off the allegations of Iran’s law enforcement agencies. Earlier, commenting his placement into the black list, the Iranian tycoon stated in an interview with Reuters, “This action became no more than publicity for his 65 enterprises all over the world”. The area of interest of Babak Zanjani;s corporation, aside from oil, comprises cosmetics and wholefood production, as well as air service.

On Tuesday, talks between experts from Iran and P5+1 (five permanent UN SC members plus Germany) on practical implementation of accords on Iran’s nuclear program will continue in Geneva. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Aragchi described as “successful” the start of the third round of these talks, which took place on Monday. In particular, the accords provide for lifting some of the sanctions imposed against Iran.

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