Interpol has arrested the former managing director of Iran’s Sarmayeh Bank (Capital Bank), Alireza Heydarabadi, who allegedly fled to Spain earlier this year, Islamic Republic News Agency reported on June 11.
Sarmayeh Bank, a private lender partly funded by the Cultural Fund, became a target for investigation to Iranian prosecutors following orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who demanded that the country’s judiciary root out corruption across the state administration, government entities and banking sector. The Cultural Fund is a pension fund for teachers and academics.
The Tehran Prosecutor’s office said Heydarabadi is accused of a breach of trust, financial misconduct and disrupting the state economy. Interpol was set to hand over the banker to the Iranians in Spain.
Heydarabadi’s case is linked to that of oligarch Hossein Hedayati, known as “ATM” because of his wealth. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail and 70 lashes after being found guilty of handing out unduly favourable loans from Sarmayeh Bank, under the supervision of Heydarabadi.
Hedayati was ordered to repay Iranian rial (IRR) 4.88tn ($116mn) in loans that he received from the bank. The lender has reportedly posted large losses across recent years.
Khamenei last August created a special court to deal with the “swift and just” legal pursuit of those exploiting the “economic war” waged by foreign enemies. That was a clear reference to the unprecedented heavy sanctions targeted at Iran by the US.
The sanctions have caused market turbulence and deformations that have thrown up big opportunities for profiteers. The objective in quickly expediting headline-grabbing cases in the special court is to quell public anger at those exploiting the misfortunes of ordinary Iranians and the country. The trials should also discourage others from committing offences.
The fast-track court rulings cannot be appealed unless the convict is given a death sentence.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei lately said 29 Iranians and an Afghan foreign exchange dealer were convicted of crimes including bribery, embezzlement and “disrupting the economy”.