Iran executes businessman dubbed 'Sultan of Bitumen'

Iran executes businessman dubbed 'Sultan of Bitumen'
An Iranian trader was hanged on Saturday after being convicted of fraud, bribery and embezzlement.
2 min read
22 December, 2018
Dermani was convicted of 'spreading corruption on the earth [AFP]

Iran has executed a businessman convicted of fraud, bribery and embezzlement.

Hamid Reza Bagheri Dermani, also known as the "Sultan of Bitumen," was hanged on Saturday, state television reported. The Supreme Court in November upheld his October death sentence and conviction on a charge of spreading corruption on Earth. He was also ordered to pay a more than $100 million cash fine.

"Spreading corruption on Earth" - a phrase taken from the Quran - is the highest crime under Iran's Islamic law and carries a mandatory death sentence.

Dermani, first arrested in August 2014, reportedly forged dozens of documents of fake real estate to acquire loans from state banks.

He then used front companies to procure more than 300,000 tonnes of bitumen - an oil-based substance used in asphalt and other products and one of Iran's most profitable businesses - Mizan said.

Dermani was also accused of ties to business magnate Babak Morteza Zanjani, who is awaiting execution after being convicted in 2016 of embezzling $2.7 billion while helping the government circumvent international sanctions.

News of Dermani's execution was presented in dramatic fashion on state television on Saturday, with an action-movie soundtrack and full documentary about his crimes.

Last month, Iran executed two men for hoarding gold coins and other hard currency.

Agencies contributed to this report.