The Iranian judiciary has announced the arrest of 16 suspects for “interfering in the currency market” and worsening the severe devaluation of the national currency.
The Mehr News Agency reports that the Tehran Prosecutor’s office announced charges of widespread trading in foreign currencies outside the banking network, trading foreign currencies on the black market, acquiring illegitimate assets through their activities and causing the fall in the value of the national currency.
The report adds that the bank account of one suspect had transactions and balances adding up to more than ten trillion rials in the past year.
The Tehran prosecutor added that arrest warrants have been issued for more suspects in the case.
Iran’s national currency has spiraled out of control in the past week, losing over 30 percent of its value. With the rate of exchange against the dollar changing by the hour on Tuesday, currency traders closed their stores and suspended all trades. Yesterday, store owners in Tehran’s Great Bazaar went on strike, while demonstrators in the bazaar area protested against the government’s economic performance.
The bazaar remains closed, and websites that reported on the exchange rate of the dollar against the rial have been blocked.
The U.S. and the EU have stressed that the recent economic developments in Iran indicate that the sanctions have been effective, but U.S. Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton emphasized that if Iran agrees to resolve the disputes over its nuclear program, the sanctions could be lifted quickly.