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Babak Morteza Zanjani (Persian: بابک مرتضی زنجانی‎, born 21 March 1974)[2] 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.

Babak Zanjani
5th session of Babak Zanjani's court-10.jpg
Zanjani in the Islamic Revolutionary Court, November 2015
Babak Morteza Zanjani

(1974-03-12) 12 March 1974 (age 45)[1]
Tehran, Iran
Criminal statusAwaiting execution
Criminal chargeSpreading corruption on earth
PenaltyDeath penalty
Capture status
Date apprehended
Imprisoned atEvin Prison

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


Sorinet GroupEdit

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]

In 2013, Zanjani stated that his net worth was $13.5 billion.[6]

EU sanctions against IranEdit

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".[7] Zanjani was claimed to be "a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money".[8] He denied the accusation, declining any ties with the Iranian government and calling the Europeans' decision "a mistake".[9]

The EU sanctions against Iran describe Zanjani as "a key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil related money" and accuses 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 are or may be involved in the Labuan Iran oil smuggling on the eastern coast of Malaysia. Labuan has been serving as a drop-off spot for Iranian crude.

Alleged dual nationalityEdit

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.[11]

Arrest and convictionEdit

On 30 December 2013, Zanjani was arrested by Iranian police for his alleged role in the corruption scandal in Turkey, in which he was accused of embezzling more than €2.7 billion.[12][13] 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.[14] 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".[15][16] In December 2016, the Supreme Court of Iran confirmed the sentence.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  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. ^ Erdbrink, Thomas (5 October 2013). "To This Tycoon, Iran Sanctions Were Like Gold". News (in English). NY Times. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1264/2012 of 21 December 2012". Official Journal of the European Union. 23 December 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  8. ^ Barbara Lewis (23 December 2012). "Tougher EU sanctions against Iran come into force". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  9. ^ Humeyra Pamuk (23 December 2012). "Iranian businessman denies EU sanctions-busting accusation". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Businessman sees upside of sanctions". Radio Zamaneh. 13 April 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Zanjani arrested". Radio Farda. 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Babak Zanjani was arrested". Khabar Online. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  14. ^ Tajik National Bank Denies Link With Iranian Businessman Radio Free Europe
  15. ^ "Iranian billionaire Babak Zanjani sentenced to death for embezzlement". Reuters. The Guardian. 6 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Iran billionaire sentenced to death". BBC. 6 March 2016. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  17. ^

External linksEdit