TEHRAN: Iran executed a trader known as the “Sultan of Bitumen” on Saturday over charges of fraud and large-scale smuggling of the oil product, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan online reported.
Hamidreza Bagheri Dermani, 49, is the third businessman to be executed since an anti-corruption drive was launched over the summer.
He was convicted of “corruption on earth” — a broad charge used for the most high-profile and serious cases — after swindling over 10 trillion rials (around $100 million at the current rate) through “fraud, forgery and bribery”, Mizan reported.
Dermani, who was arrested in August 2014, reportedly forged dozens of documents of fake real estate to acquire bank loans.
He then used 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 — Mizan said.
The judiciary said Dermani’s loans were facilitated by former central bank governor Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who was convicted in absentia last year after fleeing to Canada in the wake of yet another major embezzlement scandal.
The authorities have been keen to show they are cracking down on “economic disruptors” accused of exploiting shortages and fluctuations in gold and currency prices.
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2018