DUBAI, March 6 (Reuters) - A court in Iran has sentenced to death Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani and two accomplices for embezzlement, the judiciary said on Sunday, in a case widely watched due to the billionaire's prominent role in helping the government evade oil sanctions.
The Islamic court convicted the defendants of "spreading corruption on earth," a capital offense, and ordered them to repay funds embezzled from, among others, state-run National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on live television.
The defendants can appeal against the ruling.
"The court of first instance ... sentenced the three defendants to death," Ejei said in a weekly news conference. The three were also ordered to pay a fine equivalent to one fourth of the sums they had laundered, he said.
By his own account, Zanjani for years arranged billions of dollars of oil deals through a network of companies stretching from Turkey to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Zanjani amassed a fortune of $10 billion - along with debts of a similar scale, the tycoon once told an Iranian magazine.
At the time of his arrest in Dec. 2013, a judicial spokesman said "he received funds from certain bodies ... and received oil and other shipments and now has not returned the funds." Prosecutors accused him of owing the government more than $2.7 billion for oil sold on behalf of the oil ministry.
Iran emerged from years of economic isolation in January when world powers led by the United States and the European Union lifted crippling sanctions against Tehran in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
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Iran says court sentences billionaire to death in graft case
5. Charles Koch
Net worth: $41 billion, down $1 billion
Net worth down 2% since 2014 Forbes 400 due to market pressure on commodities and industrial companies
Charles runs $15 billion (revenues) Koch Industries, the country’s second-largest private company with $115 billion in sales.
He’s been chairman since 1967, when the company was valued at $50 million; it is now worth an estimated $100 billion
Political heavyweight compares his crusade for smaller government and economic liberty to the campaign for civil rights, and hopes his network of several hundred wealthy conservatives will spend up to $300 million on candidates and another $600 million on efforts to reduce regulation and reform the criminal justice system
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4. Jeff Bezos
Net worth: $47 billion, up $16.5 billion
Bezos is the biggest dollar-gainer on the list
Climbs into the top 10 richest on The Forbes 400 for the first time thanks to surge in Amazon.com shares
In September he announced that his aerospace company, Blue Origin, would spend over $200 million to build reusable rockets and launch them into orbit from a site at Cape Canaveral by the end of the decade.
(Photo by Nicole Craine/WireImage)
3. Larry Ellison
Net worth: $47.5 billion, down $2.5 billion
Fortune down $2.5 billion in the past year as Oracle’s share price fell
His net worth is down 5% since 2014 Forbes 400
Stepped down as CEO of Oracle in September 2014, stayed on as chairman.
In June he announced that Oracle would expand its cloud-computing business, putting it in direct competition with Amazon.com’s Web Services business.
Both of his children are Hollywood moguls. Daughter Megan has financed films like Zero Dark Thirty and American Hustle. Son David has produced franchises like The Terminator and Mission: Impossible.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
2. Warren Buffett
Net worth: $62 billion, down $5 billion
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
Fortune down $5 billion in the past year because share price of Berkshire Hathaway fell
His net worth is down 7.5% since 2014 Forbes 400
Berkshire Hathaway in August announced its biggest acquisition ever, agreeing to pay $37 billion for Precision Castparts, a maker of aerospace, power and industrial parts
In addition to Precision, Berkshire owns companies including Geico, Dairy Queen and Fruit of the Loom
This year teamed up again with 3G Capital, a firm run by a trio of Brazilian billionaires, to merge Kraft Foods with Heinz. Buffett has joined forces last year to help finance 3G’s merger of Burger King and coffeehouse chain Tim Hortons
Lifetime philanthropic giving: $25.6 billion
(Photo by Eric Frances/Getty Images)
1. Bill Gates
Net worth: $76 billion, down $5 billion
World’s richest man for 22nd year in a row
Fortune down 6%
Gates own just under 3% of Microsoft, which accounts for 13% of his total fortune. His private investment firm, Cascade, makes up the rest, investing in stocks, bonds, private equity and real estate
Lifetime philanthropic giving: $31.5 billion
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(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by William Maclean and Susan Thomas)