Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, an Iranian billionaire arrested for allegedly perpetrating a $2.6 billion dollar bank fraud, was hanged on Saturday after a swift court decision to impose the death penalty. The decision was so sudden Khosravi’s lawyer told Iranian media that no one had told him the execution had been scheduled.
According to the Associated Press, Iranian state television reported that the Iranian Supreme Court upheld a death sentence handed down in a case in which 39 individuals were found guilty of a large-scale fraud. Khosravi was summarily executed for “corruption on earth … through bribery and money laundering.” Khosravi and the three others sentenced to death in the conspiracy are alleged to have forged documents to improve their credit and receive loans from major Iranian banks. Those loans were later used to invest in state-owned companies. While many others were accused of being involved in the scam, Khosravi was accused of leading and organizing the fraud.
The scandal was the largest of its kind in post-Revolutionary Iran and threatened at one point to engulf the government itself. The Iranian Parliament called on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to testify in a government investigation on the case in 2011 and how it may have affected the strength of corporate entities run by the government into which the bankers had invested. Ultimately, the President was not found to have had a broad role in the case, and prosecutors continued to focus on the leaders of the scheme.
The execution was so sudden that Khosravi’s lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, told media outlets that he was not informed that his client would be executed during the weekend. According to the UK’s Independent, Riahi told khabaronline.ir, an online news outlet in the country, that “he had not been informed of the execution” and that all of his client’s assets were “at the disposal of the prosecutor’s office.”
Khosravi is one of four individuals sentenced to death over the scandal. This year, Amnesty International condemned Iran as one of the nations with the highest number of executions in the world, along with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In 2013, Iran reported 369 executions, an increase from the year before, but Amnesty researchers noted that investigations had led them to tally the total number of killings to 704, including unreported executions. Researchers at Amnesty International believe that China has the highest number of annual executions, but given the lack of official data on state behavior, there is no way to prove just how many people are killed by the Chinese government annually.