Four face death in Iran over $2.6bn banking fraud

Four people face execution over a $2.6bn bank (£1.7bn) bank fraud described as the biggest financial scam in Iranian history. Two more of the 39 accused in the case were jailed for life, state media reported yesterday.

The trial, which began in February, involved some of the country's largest financial institutions and raised uncomfortable questions about top-level corruption in Iran's tightly-controlled economy.

The man described by Iranian media as the mastermind of the scheme, the businessman Amir Mansoor Khosravi, is said to have forged letters of credit from Iran's Bank Saderat to fund dozens of companies and to buy a state-owned steel factory.

Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former head of Iran's biggest bank, the state-owned Bank Melli, quit over the affair and has reportedly fled to Canada.