Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - As reported the Iranian judiciary’s official news website, Mizan, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former chairman of Bank Melli Iran, will be tried in absentia on November 21st. Mizan cited the chief of Tehran’s justice department, as saying on October 8th, that the trial will take place at the Islamic Revolutionary Court.

In one of Iran’s largest embezzlement cases, involving roughly $2.6 billion, semi-official Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported that Khavari stands accused of a fraud that used bogus documents to obtain credit from eight Iranian banks. MNA reports that the money was used to purchase state-owned companies over a four-year period.

Other reports allege that Khavari became a Canadian citizen in 2005, owned a home in Toronto, and fled to Canada in 2011 to join his family. Although Tehran has officially requested his extradition, Canada has refused, citing the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty with Iran.

After his flight to Canada, Khavari reportedly gave his $3 million home to his daughter for the token price of two dollars.

Interpol placed him on its red notice wanted list in February 2013, but removed his name in October 2016. However, the chief of the Iranian branch of Interpol said the removal of information about Khavari does not mean the red notice against him has been lifted. “The red notice is accessible and citable in Interpol’s main system to Interpol branches in all countries. The red notice has been only removed from the organization’s public portal, and that only happens in the cases where the Interpol branch in the individual’s country of residence has established a connection with the branch that issued the red notice,” MNA quoted General Massoud Rezvani as saying.

He added, “In the case of Khavari’s travel to other countries, the police department of the country is obliged to detain him based on the red notice being still active in their system and immediately inform the Interpol branch in Tehran.”

Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei admitted that Tehran’s efforts for Khavari’s extradition through Interpol have been unsuccessful. Still, Ejei advised Khavari to voluntarily return to Tehran since he would benefit from defending his innocence in a court of law. Khavari has yet to respond to Ejei’s advice.

Iranian Businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, who was once generally believed to be the richest man in the country, was executed for his part in the same 2011 Iranian embezzlement scandal.

The Toronto Star reported in October 2011that Bank Melli, which Khavari led as its chairman of the board and managing director, was accused of facilitating fraudulent payments. Canada’s Globe and Mail reported in November 2011, that in addition to being linked to the fraud scandal, the bank has been blacklisted for years by Canada, the United States, and the European Union, which allege that the bank used shell companies and other deceptive practices to finance terrorism and fund Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

Khavari has allegedly also been embroiled in financial disputes and lawsuits in Canada. Since the scandal, Iran has legally barred citizens with dual nationality from directing its banks.

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