President Hassan Rouhani's younger brother and confidant Hossein Fereydoun has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for "receiving bribes," A Judiciary Spokesman announced in Tehran on Tuesday October 1.
Fereydoun (Fereidoun) must also pay a fine and return 310 billion rials (nearly $7.4 million at the official rate of exchange announced by the government).
The spokesman said this is the final verdict issued by the Court of Appeal that has reduced the previous 7 year jail sentence to 5 years.
Apart from bribery, Fereydoun has been also indicted for "money laundering" and possession of "dirty money," Fars news agency reported.
According to Fars, "Fereydoun has offered effective consultations to those seeking high positions in Iranian banks and other financial and economic institutions and received hundreds of billions of rials from those individuals."
Rouhani's brother was closely involved in the nuclear negotiations with world powers between 2013-2015.
Fereydoun was first arrested in June 2018 but was soon freed on bail. The amount of the bail was announced as 500 billion rials, equivalent of nearly $12 million. In Iran bails are not necessarily in cash but could also be secured by real estate assets.
Some of those involved in major financial corruption cases in Iran are well-connected individuals who are linked to state officials mainly through kinship. President Rouhani's brother Hossein Fereydoun is only one such case.
Vice-President Es'haq Jahangiri's brother, is also currently free on bail for a similar case which has remained inconclusive so far. The Tabnak website, affiliated with former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaee, reported in October 2018 that Eshaq Jahangiri's brother, Mehdi Jahangiri, was taken into custody.
Mehdi Jahangiri runs the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and is also the founder of the private Gardeshgari Bank. He is also the founder of Tourism Financial Group that includes several companies working in banking, tourism, construction, oil, gas, petrochemicals, and mining.
Iranian news website Alef had accused Tourism Financial Group of corruption during President Ahmadinejad's term of office. According to Alef, the company had taken possession of more than a million square meters of land in Lavizan, a resort area in northern Tehran, in an “legally inappropriate manner”.
The website had also accused Jahangiri’s group of receiving free lands next to Imam Khomeini International Airport for building Hotels in an “improper” way.
More recently in May, Mohammad Hadi Razavi – the son-in-law of Iran’s labor minister, Mohammad Shariatmadari – has been charged with embezzlement and “disruption of the economy” after receiving 2.11 trillion rials (around $51m) in loans from banks, which he has failed to pay back.
Citing the Central Bank of Iran’s report on the case, the prosecutor alleged that Razavi had received 1,07 trillion rials ($25.5m) loan from Sarmayeh, and another 1.04 trillion rials ($24.m) loan from other banks. In the initial hearing, the prosecution had alleged that Hadi Razavi had bribed Sarmayeh Bank managers, from 2012 to 2015, to borrow $25.5m with no collateral.
In the years past, there were few high-profile individuals arrested and prosecuted for corruption. The pace has picked up since Iran’s economic downturn, which began in early 2018. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered law enforcement and the Judiciary in mid-2018 not to tolerate corruption.
In an even more recent case, authorities in Iran have arrested the daughter of a former minister of industry, mines, and trade for cornering a part of the medicine market and accumulating assets through illegal channels, the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on Sunday, September 8. The case is still being heard at a court in Tehran.
Iranian reformists and President Rouhani have questioned the "political motive" behind these arrests and trials. However, evidence presented by prosecutors are damning.
On the other hand, in February, twenty conservative members of Iran’s parliament demanded an open court public trial for the brother of President Hassan Rouhani and the brother of his vice president.
Fereydoun's financial activities also became a hot topic for the first time during the 2017 Presidential election campaign, when Rouhani’s main opponent, Ebrahim Raeesi (who is currently the head of Iran's powerful Judiciary) brought up the issue during a live televised debate.