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Iran executes billionare guilty of fraud

| Saturday, May 24, 2014, 6:27 p.m.

TEHRAN, Iran — A billionaire businessman at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam in Iran, the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution, was executed Saturday, state television reported.

Authorities put Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, to death at Evin prison, just north of the capital, Tehran, the TV reported. The report said the execution occurred Iran's Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Khosravi's lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, was quoted by news website khabaronline.ir as saying the death sentence was carried out without him being given any notice. Death sentences in Iran are usually carried out by hanging.

“I had not been informed about the execution of my client,” Riahi said. “All the assets of my client are at the disposal of the prosecutor's office.”

The fraud involved using forged documents to get credit at one of Iran's top financial institutions, Bank Saderat, to purchase assets including state-owned companies like major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co.

Khosravi's business empire included more than 35 companies from mineral water production to a football club and meat imports from Brazil.

A total of 39 defendants were convicted in the case. Four received death sentences, two got life sentences and the rest received sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

The trials raised questions about corruption at senior levels in Iran's tightly controlled economy during the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, a former head of Bank Melli, another major Iranian bank, escaped to Canada in 2011 after he resigned over the case. He is charged in the case in Iran and remains on the Islamic Republic's wanted list. Khavari admitted that his bank partially was involved in the fraud, but has maintained his innocence.

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