’Iranian tycoon transferred money to Turkey graft suspect’

Prosecuting attorneys in Tehran have alleged that Iranian business tycoon Babak Zanjani — currently on trial for embezzling $2.8 billion of Iranian state money — transferred a large amount of his money in Iran to a currency exchange firm run by Reza Zarrab.
The death penalty is being sought for Zanjani, who was arrested in late 2013 and has been held in custody since. Zanjani, who was found with several forged identity documents on his person, has been on trial since October. Earlier this week in court Zanjani claimed that he attempted to pay off a portion of his debt to the Iranian state via a deposit in the Tehran branch of the Turkish state-run Halkbank, but the bank refused to accept the deposit.
Zarrab was arrested in December 2013 as part of a major corruption investigation in which the young businessman was alleged to have bribed Cabinet ministers with large sums of money to help usher along a shady gold-for-oil trade between Ankara and Tehran, enabling the latter to avoid international sanctions. The investigation was eventually dropped and the prosecutors who launched it were removed from their posts. 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. Zanjani and Zarrab are widely considered to be business partners, and there has been much speculation that Zanjani was the mastermind behind Zarraband’s gold-for-oil trade, though the latter has denied this.
In the 22nd general meeting of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TiM), which was held in June of this year and attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Zarrab, the chairman of Volgam Gida, was given the and”export championand” award in the jewelry sector. This raised the question of whether he had been helping his alleged associate Zanjani in transferring the embezzled Iranian state money to Turkey through the fraudulent purchase of jewelry. Zarraband’s award was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmui, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekandci and TiM President Mehmet Banduyandukekii. A picture showing Kurtulmui, Zeybekandci and Banduyandukekii holding the award to give to Zarrab has spread across social media sites, sparking strong public criticism.


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