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Judicial CP - November 1997

Straits Times, Singapore, 19 November 1997

Jail and cane for two Iranian tycoons guilty of 'economic sabotage'

TEHERAN -- An Iranian court has sentenced two businessmen, known for their extensive construction and trade dealings, to long prison terms and up to 339 lashes for "economic sabotage", a newspaper has reported.

The daily Kayhan said on Monday that the court passed jail terms of 25 and 23 years and sentences of 339 and 229 lashes respectively against Hassan Afrashtehpour and his brother, Davoud, for embezzling US$60 million from a state bank, bribery and falsifying documents. The court also seized most of the assets of the two men, major developers in Teheran's booming construction sector, ruling that their actions amounted to "economic sabotage".

Five employees of the state-run Bank Saderat, convicted of helping the developers in illegal foreign-exchange deals, and 13 of the duo's associates were sentenced to up to 15 years in jail and up to 108 lashes each and ordered to pay fines.

Economists said the case, the first major trial of private businessmen in an anti-corruption drive launched in July, had caused widespread concern among developers in Teheran and had been a contributing factor in a recent slowdown in construction. Because of the two developers' dealings with city officials to obtain permits for high-rise buildings, the case is linked to trials of several municipality officials on graft charges.

The Mayor of Teheran, Mr Gholamhossein Karbaschi, an ally of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, has said the cases against the city officials were politically motivated. -- Reuters.

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