November 13, 2019 / 6:12 PM / a month ago

Iran says fugitive businessman charged with corruption returns home

DUBAI (Reuters) - A fugitive Iranian businessman charged with financial crimes and accused of ties to President Hassan Rouhani’s brother, who has been jailed for graft, has returned home, the country’s judiciary said on Wednesday.

Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoun, is serving a five-year jail term in a corruption case that the president’s supporters allege was politically motivated.

The circumstances surrounding the return to Iran of businessman Rasoul Danialzadeh, and whether he did so voluntarily, were unclear.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said the accused had “returned to the country under the guidance...of the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence agents”, the judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported.

Mizan quoted Esmaili as saying later: “There was no arrest overseas. He was advised to return of his own accord and this is what happened.” Danialzadeh’s case will be handled with leniency thanks to his cooperation, the spokesman added.

A video carried by Iranian news agencies appeared to show Danialzadeh arriving alone on an Emirates flight from Dubai and then being led away.

Esmaili said Danialzadeh owed 40 trillion rials ($340 million) to banks and had ties with others accused of corruption, including Fereydoun, before fleeing Iran, the news agencies reported.

The arrest of Danialzadeh came amid heightening tensions between the pragmatist Rouhani and the hardline judiciary.

In several speeches this week, Rouhani has accused the judiciary of dealing with financial corruption along factional lines, and vowed he would not remain silent despite a backlash by hardline officials and media.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich

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