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Court gives hefty jail terms in Iran’s petrochemical fraud case

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Six former officials of Iran’s Petrochemical Commercial Company have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for involvement in a massive embezzlement case.

More than a dozen officials and business executives who used to occupy senior positions in Iran’s petrochemical sector have been sentenced to long terms in prison over their involvement in a $7.9 billion embezzlement case that took place nearly a decade ago.

Iran’s special court for dealing with economic corruption had sentenced six former officials of Iran’s Petrochemical Commercial Company to 20 years in prison, according to a Sunday statement by spokesman of the Iranian judiciary Zabihollah Khodaeian.

Khodaeian said the six officials have been convicted of involvement in sabotage activities affecting the Iranian economic system by misappropriating hard currency revenues derived from exports of petrochemical products.

The official said two former business executives involved in the case received 15-year prison sentences and six former officials were sentenced to five years for contributing to the fraud process.

All the convicts, some of them tried in absentia, will be subject to life-long bans on assuming any government or administrative responsibility while they are supposed to return the embezzled funds, said Khodaian, adding that eight of the convicts were also sentenced to flogging.

The judiciary spokesman said judges had gone through 72,000 sheets of documents in the petrochemical embezzlement case before issuing the verdicts.   

He said a separate trial related to the case will lead to additional verdicts for the convicts and other suspects involved in the case.

Iran has toughened rules and regulations on economic corruption in recent years leading to courts issuing unprecedented verdicts, including death sentences, for the convicts.

The petrochemical embezzlement case has been at the heart of public interest in Iran especially after it became known last year that a woman who was a chief suspect in the case had sought refuge in Canada where some other former corrupt officials have settled in recent years.

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