British minister Alistair Burt believes the death penalty is too harsh a sentence in this case
British Foreign Office Minister for Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, has urged Iranian authorities to commute the death sentences handed down to four men convicted of embezzlement.
The quartet, Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, the head of Amir Mansour Arya Company; Behdad Behzadi, the company's financial adviser; Iraj Shojai, the financial sources and investment development officer of Amir Mansour Arya Company, and Saeed Kiyani Rezazadeh, the head of Ahvaz Bank of Saderat branch, were found guilty of "corruption on earth through disruption of the economic system of the country", which includes crimes such as "embezzlement, money laundering and forgery."
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Burt said: "I condemn the recent death sentences, confirmed on April 8 by Iran’s Supreme Court, against four individuals charged with embezzlement.
"The UK is firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty in any circumstances. While corruption and financial crime are not insignificant offences, international law stipulates that the death penalty should only be used for the most serious crimes.
"I call upon Iran to commute the sentences of Mahafarid Amir-Khosravi, Behdad Behzadi, Iraj Shojai and Saeed Kiani Rezazadeh in line with its international human rights obligations," he added.
Iranian media reported that the fraud case involved a large network of banks and financial institutions that took part in the sale of fraudulent letters of credit, which led to a loss of $3 billion dollars shared by more than eight banks.