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Iran: Police Arrest Dozens in Dollar Crackdown

Iran: Police Arrest Dozens in Dollar Crackdown

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 - 10:00
Dozens of dollar traders have been arrested in the Iranian capital, Tehran. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Dozens of “dollar traders" have been arrested in the Iranian capital, Tehran, announced Tehran Police Chief Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi, amid fears of a deepening Iranian currency crisis, a week after the US renewed its sanctions on Iranian oil.

"Over the past few days, 130 dollar brokers have been arrested and taken to jail," he announced.

The Tasnim news agency quoted Rahimi as saying that selling US dollars in the streets or the market is a crime and the police will fight it. This is the second major wave of arrests by police against dollar dealers after dozens were arrested between July and August.

In August, the dollar crisis led to the ouster of the governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBE), Aliullah Saif, and arrest of the bank’s forex department official Ahmed Araghchi, as well as five senior staff of the Central Bank.

The Iranian rial has lost about 70 percent of its value since April because of a weak economy and strong demand for the dollar from Iranians who fear the impact of US sanctions.

Last month, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani admitted the country was facing an economic and psychological war.

In June, Tehran's markets saw rare protests after the devaluation of the currency, where people chanted against hiked prices. Protesters cordoned off the parliament building, but security forces used tear gas to disperse them.

Last week, the US unleashed its "toughest ever" sanctions against Iran targeting oil exports, shipping and banks, all core parts of the economy.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei announced that Iranian special courts set up in a drive against economic crime have sentenced two people to death, reported Reuters.

The fast-track revolutionary courts were set up in August after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for “swift and just” legal action to confront an “economic war” by foreign enemies.

Judiciary’s news website Mizan reported Ejei announcing the courts had handed down death sentences against two defendants after convicting them of “spreading corruption on earth.”

In September, the courts handed down three death sentences on similar charges. Ejei said on Sunday that 11 more defendants had received jail terms of up to 10 years for “economic corruption”, and a judge was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 75 lashes for taking bribes.

Ejei said 96 people had been arrested for charges linked to illegal trading in hard currencies or gold, Mizan report.

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