Iran sentences man, wife to death for money laundering, corruption

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A special anti-corruption court in Iran has sentenced a couple to death on money laundering and other charges, the judiciary said Tuesday.

The couple — Najva Lasheidaei and her husband Vahid Behzadi — are said to have smuggled hard currency and laundered $200 million, said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

Authorities also confiscated nearly 300 kilograms of gold from the couple and said they had bought 6,700 cars from Saipa, one of top two automakers of the country.

In connection to the Saipa part of the charges, the court separately sentenced lawmakers Fereidoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi to five years in prison each, as well as Mehdi Jamali, a former CEO of Saipa, to seven years in prison.

Both lawmakers represent the city of Zanjan, about 300 kilometers (187 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.

Under Iranian law, the couple can appeal the verdicts within 20 days. Their lawyers were not reachable for comment.

Iran is struggling to battle corruption, including among its lawmakers. Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the trade and industry minister amid ongoing economic problems that have seen car prices skyrocket by more than 60 percent.

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Iran’s constitutional watchdog barred some 90 lawmakers from running for reelection in February’s parliamentary elections, accusing an unspecified number of them of corruption.

In 2019, a court sentenced Rouhani’s brother and close confidante of the president, Hossein Fereidoun, to five year prison term for financial misconduct.

The charges date back to 2016 and were brought by hard-liners who dominate the country’s judiciary.

Iran has been in the grip of a severe economic crisis since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and imposed crippling trade sanctions on Iran.

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