July 31, 2018
Twenty-nine people have been arrested on charges of ‘economic disruption’ and will be soon put on trial, according to Iran’s judicial spokesman on July 29.
Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei added that many of the detainees are charged with “corruption on Earth,” which is punishable by death.
The mid-ranking cleric noted that more with similar charges would be arrested by July 30, adding that their trials will be held soon.
On July 28, Mohseni Ejei reported that 18 people were detained on charges of disruption on the local forex market and illegally importing vehicles.
According to Mohseni Ejei, at least five top managers from the Industry, Mines, and Trade Ministry had been placed behind bars for their connection to illegally importing luxury cars to Iran.
Earlier, on June 26, the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, had cautioned that disrupting the “national economic order” leads to “heavy punishment” and, if proved as “corruption on Earth,” will be punished by execution.
Many of the detainees so far have been charged with buying gold coins in excessive amounts. Judicial officials and security forces maintained that a man, named Hameed Mazloumin, and his son were arrested for buying more than 2 tons of gold coins.
Iranian state-run TV had earlier, on July 4, reported, “Police have arrested a man who was hoarding 2 tons of gold coins ‘to manipulate’ the market.”
The report cited Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi as saying the 58-year-old suspect had accomplices who assisted him collect the coins over the past 10 months. He did not identify the suspect, who state media referred to as the “Sultan of Coins.”
Two tons of gold would be the equivalent of around 250,000 coins.
However, there are no laws in Iran’s criminal code that restrict or ban buying precious metals or hard currencies.
Reportedly, Iranians have stocked up on gold coins and other “safe investments” as the national currency, the rial, has dramatically lost value in recent months. The Iranian rial plunged to 100,000 to the dollar – more than double the governmental official rate of 45,000.
Meanwhile, Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi disclosed without any elaboration on July 29 that 30 people who recently bought large amounts of gold coins had withdrawn money from various national and private banks to do so.
Referring to the government’s promise to distribute “62 tons of gold” to satisfy the demand of people who had registered to buy “pre-ordered” gold coins, Jafari Dolatabadi cited officials of the Gold and Jewelry Guild as saying, “People have deposited more than 200 tons of gold in their houses.”
In the meantime, Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) reported on July 30, “While Iran’s market has experienced a hike in the value of foreign currencies and gold coin prices in recent months, the Iranian money plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar on the unofficial market, which is being offered for as much as 110,000 rials Monday.”
According to Tasnim, the value of the Iranian rial against the euro also fell to a record low on July 29 and continued on July 30. Euros and pounds on the free market in Tehran were sold for 136,100 and 153,040 rials, respectively.
Iranian gold coin prices also skyrocketed, hitting 45 million rials.
There has been growing demand for dollars among ordinary Iranians, who fear a further plunge in the value of their assets and growing prices of goods, even those not imported from abroad, Tasnim reported, adding, “The purchasing power of Iranians has plummeted for the umpteenth time in recent months as wage increases have lagged far behind prices.”