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Iran Sentences Fugitive Ex-Bank Chief To Prison In Absentia

Mahmud Reza Khavari (file photo)
Mahmud Reza Khavari (file photo)

Iran's judiciary says the former head of the country's largest state-controlled bank who fled to Canada amid a massive embezzlement case has been handed a lengthy prison sentence in absentia.

Mahmud Reza Khavari, the former head of Bank Melli Iran, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "disrupting the economic system," Iranian news agencies cited Musa Ghazanfarabadi, head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, as saying on December 9.

Ghazanfarabadi said Khavari had also been handed a 10-year sentence for bribery to run concurrently with the longer prison term.

Each of the charges carried a fine of $3 million, and the verdict can still be appealed.

Khavari, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2005, joined his family there in 2011 in the wake of the $2.6 billion fraud scandal, described as the largest-ever such case in Iran.

Tehran has appealed to Canada for assistance, but Ottawa has refused, citing the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty.

The fugitive banker had been accused of embezzlement, fraud, taking bribes, and illegally acquiring property.

One businessman accused in the case was executed by hanging in Tehran in 2014 after Iran's Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Iranian authorities say the case involved forged documents used to fraudulently purchase assets that included major state-owned companies in Iran.

Khavari was appointed as chairman of Bank Melli Iran during the second term of then-President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Based on reporting by AFP, Tasnim, AP, and RFE/RL's Radio Farda