The head of Iran’s judiciary announced on Wednesday that the courts will readily “issue death penalties” to the “disruptors” of the country’s foreign currency market.
ISNA reports that Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani emphasized that the judiciary will deal with those who have been “identified as economic disruptors” just as it would with “smugglers, bandits and drug traffickers.”
Drug trafficking is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic.
In recent weeks, Iran’s foreign currency and gold markets have experienced sharp fluctuations, which many analysts have linked to the intensification of international sanctions against Iran. A number of high-ranking Iranian officials, however, have blamed the market instability on disruptive plans implemented by the regime’s enemies.
Ayatollah Larijani said some of the “problems in the foreign currency and gold markets are created by groups linked to the regime’s enemies.” He added that these groups “have made the market volatile by creating various websites that fabricate rates for foreign currency and gold.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly blamed certain unnamed political figures and domestic media outlets connected to certain institutions.
MP Ahmad Tavakoli, the head of Parliament’s research commission, warned that the current economic situation could lead to “bankruptcy.” He called on Parliament and the judiciary to confront the administration, of which he was highly critical.
Iran’s top police official has been quoted as saying that the fluctuations in the currency market are promoted by foreign media to create insecurity ahead of the March parliamentary elections.
Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi has also announced that his ministry is trying to identify “behind-the-scenes elements of recent volatility in the currency and gold markets.”
Meanwhile, Iranian media report that a number of traders have been detained. They work on Tehran’s Ferdowsi Street, a hub for foreign-currency traders.
Analysts have criticized the arrests, arguing that heightened insecurity in the trading environment can only increase the cost of trading and cause further hikes in the exchange rate.
Iran’s Central Bank has announced that foreign currencies can only be traded within three to five percentage points of the official Central Bank rate, warning that violators will face penalties.