More evidence has been brought to the fore about just how deeply former Dominican diplomat Alireza Zibahalat Monfared was involved in helping to embezzle billions of dollars while Iran evaded international oil sanctions.
Iran news is reporting that a court in Tehran sentenced Monfared to twenty years of jail and repaying $1.3 billion of what prosecutors say is government’s embezzled funds.
Alireza was issued a Dominican diplomatic passport in March 2015 but it was revoked on January 20, 2016 after the scandal broke.
It is alleged that he was involved in Iran’s biggest-ever corruption scandal, working alongside tycoon Babak Zanjani who was sentenced to death last year for pocketing $2.8 billion while helping the country bypass sanctions, according to online news organization alarabiya.net.
But media reports within the last week indicate that Monfared, identified by the local news outlets as the “right hand” of the imprisoned Iranian tycoon, Zanjani, was arrested by the Interpol on January 15, 2017, and surrendered to the Islamic Republic.
It is alleged Babak Zanjani was helping former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration to circumvent U.S. sanctions but failed to return funds after he sold oil on behalf of the government.
The court has sentenced Zanjani to death. Still, the Islamic authorities insist that they have suspended the verdict, hoping to force Zanjani to return billions of missing dollars.
Zanjani must repay two billion euros (approximately $2.2 billion), but has only returned one-fifth of what he owes the government, the Ministry of Oil maintains.
The so-called tycoon’s “right hand”, Monfared, admitted in his last court hearing that he had assisted Zanjani through registering “front companies” in Malaysia, “skipping international sanctions imposed on Tehran,” “finding stores to stockpile Iranian crude oil to be sold later,” and “receiving four ships” for sale.
Furthermore, Monfared insisted that he had been in the home decoration business, and he had no expertise in crude oil and banking affairs.
The news organization reports that Monfared had various passports and had managed to escape extradition at least once when he was briefly detained in Malaysia.