An Iranian court on Monday sentenced to death four individuals convicted on financial corruption charges, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) [official website] reported [IRNA report]. The national news agency cited [Reuters report] Prosecutor-General Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, who said that the four were among 39 suspects who received sentences ranging 25 years to life in prison. They were accused of involvement in a USD $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement case last year. IRNA reported that the man behind the bank fraud forged letters of credit from a bank in Iran [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], Saderat [corporate website], to fund numerous companies and obtain a state-owned steel factory. There has been criticism that the anti-corruption campaign of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the government's privatization only benefit political elites. Some of the defendants in the case have argued that high-level officials who were also involved in the fraud were not prosecuted against while the government claimed that the issue of corruption were addressed in an open manner.
Corruption continues to be a problem throughout the world. Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] called on [JURIST report] the government of Kyrgyzstan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law while mentioning that corruption is one of the main problems the country faces affecting every aspect of society, undermining the "rule of law, the police, the judiciary, and trust in both local and national authorities." The same day, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert [official profile; JURIST news archive] was acquitted [JURIST report] of two major counts of corruption but found guilty of a third lesser charge on Tuesday in the culmination of a three-year trial. In June Bolivian authorities arrested [JURIST report] a former chief of the country's armed forces on corruption charges including illicit enrichment, dereliction of duty and abuse of influence.