In an attempt to address economic issues and root out corruption, Iran’s judiciary has handed out another death sentence and dozens of long prison sentences for economic charges.
According to judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Hamid Bagheri Darmani. He was originally arrested in 2014 and charged with “corruption on earth,” which carries the death sentence. Bagheri Darmani was accused of embezzlement at a number of Iranian companies, including at Jey Oil Refining Company, Bank Melli Iran, Iran Insurance Company and Tourism Bank.
Bagheri Darmani’s arrest was long before the latest crackdown by the judiciary to stamp out corruption in the exchange market and other general economic corruption. However, the announcement by the judiciary and headlines in Iranian media suggest it is being packaged in a manner that it is part of the judiciary’s heavy-handed measures to demonstrate that there will be little leniency with economic charges.
In relation to the cases stemming from the exchange rate fluctuation earlier in the year, Mohseni-Ejei announced 30 convictions in Tehran and Shiraz for “disturbing the economic system.” The sentences ranged from one year to 10 years in prison, heavy fines, and confiscation of property and finances. In November, Iran hanged two men — one of them dubbed “Sultan of Coins” — after they were accused of manipulating the currency market. Their cases made international news.
Mohseni-Ejei said that in the last month there have been 36 new indictments related to the economic corruption cases that are being handled by special courts, and there are currently seven branches of these special courts handling the economic corruption cases in Tehran, Bandar Abbas, Esfahan and Shiraz. He said the judiciary will pursue the economic corruption cases with “certainty and speed.”
While the judiciary continues to hand out heavy sentences in order to bring stability to the exchange markets and address other economic corruption issues, President Hassan Rouhani has been fighting a battle to bring about a bill that would bring some economic transparency to the country’s financial sector. During a Dec. 10 speech, Rouhani addressed the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) bills that some conservatives have opposed but administration officials claim are necessary to facilitate banking transactions with European countries. “Is it possible in today’s world to not work with international banks?” Rouhani rhetorically asked, adding, “Then some people come — and I don’t know where this idea comes from — but they provoke people and say that if such a contract or convention is signed or that if we work with this financial group then Islam will be lost.”
Rouhani said, “How will Islam be lost? Only if you understood Islam.” He continued, “The costs must be told to the people that if we don’t do this, how much of the costs will come out of their pockets, and if we do it, then what conveniences have we provided for them.”
Iranian parliamentarian Mohsen Koohkan denied the president’s comments that anyone had claimed the FATF bills endanger Islam. He accused the president of using the same harsh language to describe his opponents as he did when he was selling the nuclear deal to the public. “During that, there were a lot of attacks against opponents of the nuclear deal, but after the exit of the United States, he did not make even one small apology despite the fact that his opponents were right. And now he’s criticizing the FATF opponents with the same methods.”
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