Dominica diplomat arrested in billion dollar embezzlement scheme

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TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian man, who holds a diplomatic passport issued by Dominica and is accused of helping to embezzle billions of dollars while Iran evaded international oil sanctions, has been arrested after a lengthy international manhunt.

Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, 43, was arrested by Interpol and handed over to Iran on January 15, 2017.

Monfared is accused of involvement in Iran’s biggest-ever corruption scandal, working alongside tycoon Babak Zanjani who was sentenced to death last year for pocketing $2.8 billion while helping the country bypass sanctions.

In addition to his Dominica diplomatic passport, Monfared had various passports, including a regular Dominica passport, and had managed to escape extradition at least once when he was briefly detained in Malaysia, where he claimed diplomatic immunity.

Unconfirmed reports said he had finally been arrested in Dominica, according to the state-run Iran Daily newspaper.

Monfared was involved in the so-called My Dominica Trade House (MDTH), later referred to as the MDTH fiasco. Monfared had falsely claimed that MDTH had numerous investments in Dominica including several clinics and hospitals, all of which turned out to be false.

Zanjani’s lawyer, Rasoul Kouhpayehzadeh, welcomed Monfared’s arrest, saying it would prove his client’s innocence. Monfared’s “interrogation and trial will shed light on many issues and unsolved puzzles,” Kouhpayehzadeh said, according to Iran Daily.

Photo1: (L-R) Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, together with the head of Dominica’s CBI program Ambassador Emmanuel Nanthan, Alick Lawrence and Minister Kenneth Darroux in Malaysia in 2015

Photo 2: Alireza Zibahalat Monfared’s diplomatic passport issued by Dominica

 

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