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Report: Iranian billionaire at centre of 2011 investigation into $2.6B bank fraud executed

TEHRAN, Iran - A billionaire businessman at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam, the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution, was executed Saturday, state television reported.

Authorities put Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, to death at Evin prison, just north of the capital, Tehran, the station reported. The report said the execution came after Iran's Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Khosravi's lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, was quoted by news website as saying that his client was put to death without any notice.

"I had not been informed about execution of my client," Riahi said. "All the assets of my client are at the disposal of the prosecutor's office."

State officials did not immediately comment on Riahi's claim.

The fraud involved using forged documents to get credit at one of Iran's top financial institutions, Bank Saderat, to purchase assets including state-owned companies like major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co.

Khosravi's business empire included more than 35 companies from mineral water production to a football club and meat imports from Brazil. According to Iranian media reports, the bank fraud began in 2007.

A total of 39 defendants were convicted in the case. Four received death sentences, two got life sentences and the rest received sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

The trials raised questions about corruption at senior levels in Iran's tightly controlled economy during the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, a former head of Bank Melli, another major Iranian bank, escaped to Canada in 2011 after he resigned over the case. He faces charges over the case in Iran and remains on the Islamic Republic's wanted list. Khavari previously admitted that his bank partially was involved in the fraud, but has maintained his innocence.

The Canadian Press

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