Iran arrested a businessman subject to US and EU sanctions on Monday, Iranian media reported, as officials met in Geneva for further talks on the country’s nuclear program.
Babak Zanjani, the chairman of Sorinet Group, was arrested on Monday afternoon, Mehr news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying. Iran’s state news agency IRNA cited an unnamed source as saying Zanjani had been transferred to Evin prison in Tehran.
No comment was immediately available from Sorinet. Zanjani has denied any wrongdoing.
The Iranian news agencies announced the arrest as Iranian officials held expert-level talks with their counterparts from six world powers, a third round of discussions on how to roll out the Nov. 24 deal that Iran agreed in return for relief from some economic sanctions.
Iran’s Press TV said Zanjani had been arrested on corruption charges and quoted the head of the Supreme Audit Court, Amin-Hossein Rahimi, as saying the National Iranian Oil Co had tasked him with exporting oil worth US$3 billion.
“The problem is that they were supposed to get collateral from him by law and this was not done. This is a violation,” Press TV quoted Rahimi as saying.
The US Department of the Treasury slapped financial penalties on Zanjani and a network of companies in April, accusing them of trying to evade sanctions over the nuclear program by moving billions of dollars on behalf of the Iranian government. He was already a target of EU sanctions.