Iranian graft suspect says tried to deposit money with Turkish bank

Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani has claimed in court that he attempted to pay off a portion of his debt to the Iranian state via a deposit in Turkish state-owned Halkbank, according to a report in the Handurriyet daily on Tuesday.
Zanjani said he tried to pay a portion of his $2.8 billion debt to Iran via the Tehran branch of Halkbank, but the bank declined to accept the deposit. The Iranian businessman is accused of embezzling more than $2 billion of state money, while trading oil for the National Iranian Oil Company (NOIC) on behalf of the Iranian government. He has been in prison since late 2013 awaiting trial, reportedly with the charges being lodged in a 237-page indictment. His trial in Iran began in early October.
Zanjani, believed to be the richest man in Iran who reportedly has $14 billion in assets, is known for helping the Iranian government evade the Western sanctions that were imposed on the country over its disputed nuclear program. In August Amir Abbas Soltani, a member of Iranand’s special parliamentary committee investigating Zanjaniand’s case, told the media they had obtained information that a great amount of Zanjaniand’s money was in Turkey and managed by Reza Zarrab, an Iranian businessman living there. When a series of corruption investigations went public on Dec. 17, 2013, in Turkey, Zarrab and several senior government officials were implicated in bribery and abuse of power while in office. The investigations were later covered up by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which dismissed the prosecutors who were overseeing the investigations and arrested the police officers helping them, accusing them of or acting against laws and procedures during the detention of suspects in the operation.
The prime minister reportedly said everyone should be treated in accordance with procedures designed by the laws and their fundamental rights should be protected.


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