The Washington Post

Iran hangs key figure in banking scandal

In this picture Feb. 18, 2012 photo, released by the Iranian Students News Agency, Mahafarid Amir Khosravi speaks at his trial in a court in Tehran. Khosravi, a billionaire businessman at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam, the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. (Hamid Foroutan/AP)

A key player in Iran’s biggest-ever banking scandal was executed here Saturday, according to state media reports.

The office of Tehran’s public prosecutor announced that Mahafarid Amir-Khosravi, one of four co-conspirators given the death sentence in 2012 for their roles in embezzling the equivalent of $2.6 billion, was hanged in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Among those accused in the case — in which a group of powerful businessmen conspired with bank managers to rob public coffers — were executives at seven of Iran’s largest banks. The managing director of the largest one, Melli Bank, is still at large, having fled the country soon after the details of the case were announced in September 2011.

Amir-Khosravi was convicted of forging letters of credit, proceeds from which were later used to set up a private bank.

Plans for his execution had not been made public, and his death caught many by surprise.

When the scandal became public, it set off a months-long national controversy, with many contending that the case would result in little more than slaps on the wrist for those involved.

At the time, much of the blame was directed at the administration of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and specifically his chief of staff and political confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, but ultimately no officials were convicted.

When Hassan Rouhani succeeded Ahmadinejad last August, however, he pledged to combat financial corruption, which was rampant during his predecessor’s two terms.

Jason Rezaian served as The Post's correspondent in Tehran from 2012 to 2016. He spent 545 days unjustly imprisoned by Iranian authorities until his release in January 2016.

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