Tehran, Iran (TDN)
An Iranian man and Dominican diplomat accused of helping to embezzle billions of dollars while Iran evaded international oil sanctions has been arrested.
Alireza Zibahalat Monfared, 43 was arrested after a lengthy manhunt and was extradited to face trial in Iran after extradition through Havana and Moscow. Foreign news agencies reported that he was initially arrested in Dominica but TDN has confirmed that he was arrested in the Dominican Republic on 12 January by Interpol agents at a hotel in the municipality of Boca Chica, where he was residing since leaving Dominica last year.
Monfared who together with Dominica’s prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit were involved with the My Dominica Trade House (MDTH) (See related story) was issued a Diplomatic passport in 2015 as well as a regular Dominica passport in 2014. Following his arrest, it was revealed that he used his various passports to help evade capture.
It is believed that this passport was instrumental in helping him evade capture after being previously detained in Malaysia where he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
The arrested fugitive is no stranger to Dominica as he visited on a few occasions and more recently his son has been residing in Dominica. He shot to eminence in Dominica after he was captured in Malaysia wining and dining Skerrit along with several government ministers in what was later referred to as the MDTH fiasco.
Monfared had falsely reported that MDTH had numerous investments in Dominica including several clinics and hospitals in Dominica, which all turned out to be false.
Monfared is accused of involvement in Iran’s biggest ever corruption scandal, working with tycoon Babak Zanjani who was sentenced to death last year for pocketing $2.8 billion while helping the country by pass sanctions.
Monfared’s arrest was welcomed by Rasoul Kouhpayehzadeh the lawyer for Zanjani saying his “interrogation and trial would shed light on many issues and puzzles” and would prove his client’s innocence.
Diplomatic passport of Monfared.
Last year Iran hanged businessman Mahafarid Amir Khosravi for masterminding a $2.6 billion banking scam, and legal experts believe that the Dominica diplomat could face a similar fate if convicted.
Monfared together with Emanuel Nanton head of the CBI program, Alick Lawrence and Minister Darroux in Malaysia in 2015.