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Billionaire On Trial For Corruption In Iran Says He Knows About Militant Groups

Hossein Hedayati, an Iranian multi-millionaire who is on trial for financial fraud March 04, 2019.

An Iranian billionaire football club investor on trial for financial corruption is using the opportunity of the public proceeding to criticize the government.

Business tycoon Hossein Hedayati insinuated in court March 18 that he had information relating to Iran’s financing of militant groups in the region.

"They have branded me as an economic troublemaker for receiving secured loans. I wish I could have talked about the Resistance Front and ISIS," Hedayati said during the hearing.

As a rule, the Resistance Front is a term used by the Islamic Republic authorities for the Lebanese Hezbollah and the extremist branches of Hamas in Palestine that are heavily financed by Tehran. He may also have been referring to the financing of Iran’s military presence in Iraq and Syria.

Hedayati further criticized the judiciary for trying him publicly.

"Why my trial is public, while the hearing for the President's brother is held behind closed doors?" Hedayati asked.

President Hassan Rouhani's brother, Hossein Fereydoun, is a politician and an aide to the president. Fereydoun was described as Rouhani’s “eyes and ears” in the negotiations leading to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. The two do not share a surname because Rouhani changed his name when he was younger.

On 15 July 2017, Fereydoun was arrested and questioned in connection with a corruption probe. He was released two days later on 500 billion rials (approximately $12 million) bail.

Conservatives have repeatedly accused Fereydoun of receiving zero-interest loans among other violations

Hedayati is accused non-payment on massive loans taken from various banks, including Bank Sarmayeh. According to the Prosecutor, Hedayati owes fifteen trillion rials (approximately $360 million) in principal and interests to the banks.

He is also accused of paying bribes to financial analysts to grossly inflate the value of his securities.