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Jailed Billionaire's Helper Must Repay $1.3 Billion To Iran's Government

Alireza Ziba Halat Monfared assisted billionaire Babk Zanjani in circumventing international oil sanctions, but they pocketed billions. File photo

A court in Tehran has sentenced a colleague of the imprisoned Iranian billionaire to twenty years of jail and repaying $1.3 billion of what prosecutors say is government’s embezzled funds.

According to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run news agency, Tasnim, Alireza Ziba Halat Monfared has also been "fined."

Ziba Halat Monfared, identified by the local news outlets as the "right hand" of the imprisoned Iranian tycoon, Babak Zanjani, was arrested by the Interpol on January 15, 2017, and surrendered to the Islamic Republic.

Babak Zanjani was helping former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration to circumvent U.S. sanctions but failed to return funds after he sold oil on behalf of the government. The court has sentenced Zanjani to death. Still, the Islamic authorities insist that they have suspended the verdict, hoping to force Zanjani to return billions of missing dollars.

Zanjani must repay two billion euros (approximately $2.2 billion), but has only returned one-fifth of what he owes the government, the Ministry of Oil maintains.

The so-called tycoon's "right hand", Ziba Halat Monfared, admitted in his last court hearing that he had assisted Zanjani through registering "front companies" in Malaysia, "skipping international sanctions imposed on Tehran," "finding stores to stockpile Iranian crude oil to be sold later," and "receiving four ships" for sale.

Furthermore, Ziba Halat Monfared insisted that he had been in home decoration business, and he had no expertise in crude oil and banking affairs.