Babak Zanjani

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Babak Zanjani
Babak Zanjani 13920412 01.jpg
Babak Zanjani

(1974-03-12) 12 March 1974 (age 49)[1]
Tehran, Iran[2]
Criminal statusAwaiting execution
Criminal chargeSpreading corruption on earth
Date apprehended

Babak Zanjani (Persian: بابک زنجانی, born 12 March 1974)[1] is an Iranian billionaire and business magnate. He was the managing director of the UAE-based Sorinet Group, one of Iran's largest business conglomerates.[3] In late 2013, he was arrested and accused of withholding $2.7 billion of government money owned by the Ministry of Petroleum, in his attempts to facilitate Iran's oil revenue hindered by the sanctions against Iran. He was convicted of corruption, sentenced to death, and is currently awaiting execution.

Several commentators have stated that Zanjani is perhaps a "fall guy" for corruption scandals in Iran.[4]

Sorinet Group[edit]

Sorinet Group (Persian: گروه شرکت‌های سورینت) is an Iranian business conglomerate. The company is one of Iran's largest business conglomerates. Sorinet businesses include cosmetics, finance and banking, hospitality, commercial aviation, infrastructure, building material, information technology and international real estate development. It operates in countries including Iran, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Tajikistan, Malaysia, China. He also owned Qeshm Airlines and Rah Ahan Sorinet F.C. in Iran.[5][6]

In 2013, Zanjani stated that his net worth was $13.5 billion.[7]

EU sanctions against Iran[edit]

Zanjani was named in the restrictive measures against Iran in December 2012 by the EU council on the grounds of "assisting designated entities to violate the provisions of the EU regulation on Iran and is providing financial support to the government of Iran".[8] Zanjani was claimed to be "a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money".[9] He denied the accusation, declining any ties with the Iranian government and calling the Europeans' decision "a mistake".[10]

The EU sanctions against Iran describe Zanjani as "a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals"[11] and transferring oil related money and accused the Malaysia-based First Islamic Bank of being used to channel Iranian oil-related payments.[10] Zanjani said the complex nature of his companies' transactions, involving large sums, might have misled EU authorities. Zanjani's companies were involved in the Labuan—Iran oil smuggling on the eastern coast of Malaysia. Labuan had been serving as a drop-off spot for Iranian crude.[12]

Alleged dual nationality[edit]

In January 2013, an Iranian news website, Baztab, reported that Zanjani holds a Danish passport in addition to his Iranian one, a claim which was later denied by Zanjani. He called the passport's copy "fake", saying in an interview with the news website of Rahahan F.C., his football team: "This story [the copy of my passport] is too badly fabricated that they even put my picture on the passport without a tie. However, it is obligatory to tie a necktie to take pictures for European passports," which is not true.[13]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

On 30 December 2013, Zanjani was arrested by Iranian police for his alleged role in the "gold for gas" sale of Iranian oil that avoided international sanctions in schemes Turkey and Malaysia. He was accused of embezzling more than €2.7 billion,[14][15] involving, among others, the National Bank of Tajikistan.[16] Some days later, a spokesman from the National Bank of Tajikistan denied any cooperation between Zanjani and the bank and claimed all documents presented by Zanjani about their two-way communications were fake.[17] He was tried in an Islamic Revolutionary Court. On 6 March 2016, he was convicted and sentenced to death for embezzlement and "spreading corruption on earth".[18][2] In December 2016, the Supreme Court of Iran confirmed the sentence.[19]

However, his sentence has been stayed pending his return of the embezzled money,[20] after which he may receive a pardon.[21] Iran's Supreme Court indicated that his sentence will be commuted when his debts to the Iranian government are paid.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b US Department of the Treasury (11 April 2013). "Treasury Targets Network Attempting to Evade Iran Sanctions".
  2. ^ a b "Iran billionaire sentenced to death". BBC. 6 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Sorinet Group".
  4. ^
    • Sune Engel Rasmussen (14 March 2016). "How Babak Zanjani Went From Iran's Top Sanctions Buster to Dead Billionaire Walking". Newsweek. Retrieved 1 January 2017. Zanjani serves as a fall guy for the current government's attempt, at least in public, to break with the cronyism of the Ahmadinejad era.
    • Hamid Dabashi (10 March 2016). "Babak Zanjani and the complicity of Iran". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 1 January 2017. The full exposure of such corruptions scandalises not only the crook who engaged in such financial atrocities, but those who enabled him and are now using him as "the fall guy".
    • Michael Theodoulou (11 January 2014). "Downfall of Iran's billionaire sanctions-buster". The National. Retrieved 1 January 2017. Scott Lucas, an Iran specialist at Birmingham University in England, suspects that Mr Zanjani will become the "fall guy" for corruption scandals involving powerful figures and institutions during the Ahmadinejad era. "More senior figures are likely to escape unscathed, provided Mr Zanjani pays the price," Mr Lucas said.
  5. ^ "Zanjani to Rahahan footballers: Raise your self-confidence". Rah Ahan Sorinet F.C. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Iran lawmakers accuse billionaire Zanjani of corruption". 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014., originally published in Aseman magazine
  7. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (5 October 2013). "To This Tycoon, Iran Sanctions Were Like Gold". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1264/2012 of 21 December 2012". Official Journal of the European Union. 23 December 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  9. ^ Barbara Lewis (23 December 2012). "Tougher EU sanctions against Iran come into force". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b Humeyra Pamuk (23 December 2012). "Iranian businessman denies EU sanctions-busting accusation". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Businessman sees upside of sanctions". Radio Zamaneh. 13 April 2013. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013.
  12. ^ Hirten, Kevin (2 December 2019). "Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Zanjani's comments on the recent allegations and accusations". Rahahan F.C. 6 February 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  14. ^ بابک زنجانی بازداشت شد [Babak Zanjani was arrested]. Khabar Online (in Persian). 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Jailed Billionaire's Helper Must Repay $1.3 Billion To Iran's Government". Radio Farda. 2 November 2019. Archived from the original on 3 November 2019.
  16. ^ اتهام جدید علیه بابک زنجانی: «جعل اسناد» پرداخت بدهی نفتی [New charge against Babak Zanjani: "forgery" oil debt payment]. Radio Farda (in Persian). 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014.
  17. ^ "Tajik National Bank Denies Link With Iranian Businessman". Radio Free Europe. 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 6 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani sentenced to death for embezzlement". Reuters. The Guardian. 6 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Iran's supreme court upholds tycoon's death sentence for graft". Reuters. 3 December 2016. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Billionaire To Be Hanged After Government Collects Its Money". Radio Farda. 14 December 2018. Archived from the original on 14 December 2018.
  21. ^ Davar, Faramarz (25 February 2019). "Will Sanctions Save Babak Zanjani from Execution?". Iran Wire. Archived from the original on 15 December 2019.
  22. ^ Maryam Sinaiee (17 July 2021). "Iran Billionaire Might Not Be Hanged If He Pays Debts To Government". Iran International. Retrieved 16 October 2022.

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