Diplomats for sale: How an ambassadorship was bought and lost

  The bespoke suits, silk ties and handmade shoes – was everything to Ali Reza Monfared.

So, when he fell from his trademark sartorial splendour to the light-blue uniform of Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, the contrast was harsh.

His neatly combed hair has also greyed considerably since Iranian International Police arrested him at a Caribbean resort in 2017.

In November 2019, Monfared was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from his country, just one of the strands in a global web of financial, diplomatic and personal fraud that saw him sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $1.3bn fine.

It could have been worse. In 2016, Monfared’s billionaire business partner, Babak Zanjani, was sentenced to death for his role in the siphoning off of $2.8bn from Iranian oil revenues.

Monfared’s natural charisma and hustle had taken him far. From humble beginnings in the home decoration business, he had rocketed to success: banker, international oil trader and, finally, “His Excellency Dato Ali Reza Monfared”, Dominica’s ambassador to Malaysia.

In 2015, Monfared had secured a Dominican diplomatic passport and, with it, what he treasured most of all – diplomatic immunity.

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