A spokesman for Iran’s court announced Tuesday that a man and wife have been sentenced to death on charges of causing disruption to the car market, gold and currency markets and money laundering.
Vahid Behzadi, who has been dubbed the “Auto King of Iran” by the Iranian media and his wife Najva Lashidaei, were both sentenced to death in a case involving more than fifty other defendants. Twenty-four of the defendants in the case, including two lawmakers, have also been found guilty of the defendant for contributing to causing disruption to the car market.
Judgments are not final and may be appealed.
Given the high inflation in the country that would push prices up once the manufacturing process was completed, with the help of industrial insiders, the couple had prepaid for more than 6,700 cars with the intention of selling them at a higher price later. They had also obtained gold coins and rods, often used as investment by Iranians, and smuggled foreign currency out of the country.
The two lawmakers, Fereydoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi, who were arrested last summer in connection with the case and released on heavy bail a few days later, have each been sentenced to sixty-one months in prison.
A former chief executive and marketing director of SAIPA, one of Iran’s largest automakers as well as the company’s security chief, has also been found guilty and sentenced to prison terms.
Iran’s car makers are not private real companies, but are partly owned by the government and partly by state-controlled banks. Citizens’ shareholders have no say in how companies are managed.
Special courts for dealing with corruption was formed two years ago by the request of Sadeq Larijani, the former Chief Justice and the blessing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, due to widespread economic corruption.
Some of the defendants in financial corruption cases have been strongly convicted, but there are no official reports on the effect of the arrests and lawsuits to curb corruption in the country.
Anger at high-level corruption has been a major driver of protests in Iran that, according to 146, ranks 146 out of 180 countries Transparency International’s latest index of corruption.
Iranian peace prayer leaders in their sermons often refer to corruption cases and call for strong sentencing by defendants in such cases, including the death penalty, without mentioning the causes and roots of the extensive corruption plaguing the Iranian economy and society.