Iran executes businessman charged with corruption

Dermani, known as the “Sultan of Bitumen,” is the third businessman to be executed in Iran since the government launched an “anti-corruption” drive earlier this year.
Saturday 22/12/2018
Iranian Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani (C) attends a session of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran.  (AFP)
More executions. Iranian Judiciary chief Sadeq Larijani (C) attends a session of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran. (AFP)

LONDON – Iran executed trader Hamidreza Bagheri Dermani, 49, on December 22 over charges of fraud and large-scale smuggling of the oil product Bitumen.

Dermani, known as the “Sultan of Bitumen,” is the third businessman to be executed in Iran since the government launched an “anti-corruption” drive earlier this year.

He was convicted of “spreading corruption on earth,” Iran’s most serious crime under Islamic laws, for a number of offences, including bribery and fraud, Iranian state media announced on December 22nd.

Mizan, Iran’s judiciary news agency, accused Dermani of swindling more than 10 trillion rials ($238 million) through “fraud, forgery and bribery.”

Dermani, who was arrested in August 2014, allegedly forged dozens of real estate documents to acquire bank loans that he then used to establish front companies to procure more than 300,000 tonnes of bitumen an oil-based substance used in asphalt and other products and one of Iran’s most profitable businesses.

Iran also has tied Demani to a number of other businessmen who now face additional corruption charges, including Babak Morteza Zanjani, who is awaiting execution after being convicted in 2016 of embezzling $2.7 billion while helping the government circumvent international sanctions

The judiciary also said Dermani’s loans were facilitated by former central bank governor Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who was convicted in absentia last year in the wake of another embezzlement scandal. Khavari fled the country in 2017 for Canada.

In November, Iran hanged Vahid Mazloumin, labelled by the Tehran police chief as the “Sultan of Coins” and his alleged accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, over currency manipulation and also for “spreading corruption on earth.”