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Iran Executes Two Men Over 'Economic Crimes'

Iran Executes Two Men Over 'Economic Crimes'

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 - 10:15
Vahid Mazloumin is seen appearing in court for the first time on charges of manipulating the currency market.Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran executed two men accused of economic crimes on Wednesday, signaling zero tolerance as it tries to shore up its currency in the face of an economic crisis and new US sanctions targeting its oil sector.

State TV reported that Vahid Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged early Wednesday. They were convicted of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.

Mazloumin, dubbed the "Sultan of coins" by media, was allegedly caught with two tons of gold coins, according to the Iranian Students´ News Agency (ISNA).

The second man was part of Mazloumin's network and had been involved in the sale of gold coins, Mizan reported.

Both of them were convicted of "spreading corruption on earth", a capital offense under Iran´s laws.

Special courts focused on financial crimes were set up in August with the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the country.

The courts have handed out at least seven death sentences since they were set up and some of the trials have been broadcast live on television.

The rial currency has lost about 70 percent of its value in 2018 under the threat of revived US sanctions, with heavy demand for dollars and gold coins on the unofficial market from ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

The cost of living has also soared, provoking sporadic demonstrations against profiteering and corruption, with many protesters chanting anti-government slogans.

In August, the United States reimposed a first round of sanctions after pulling out of a 2015 deal between world powers and Iran under which international sanctions were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

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