The Tehran Police force has announced that 88 “gold and foreign currency brokers” have been arrested, as disputes have intensified between the Iranian government and the Central Bank over handling the crisis in the currency and gold markets.
Police officials reported today, December 30, that 88 people had been arrested for being engaged in the illegal and criminal handling of gold and foreign currencies, the Fars News Agency reports.
The detainees are charged with selling “fake gold coins, stealing money from their customers, and distributing counterfeit dollars and low-quality coins.”
The possible distribution of $5 billion in counterfeit money was noted in Parliament in recent months.
The currency market has been highly volatile in Iran in the past several months, and the government previously had announced a number of arrests prior to this, also in connection with the fluctuations in the currency market.
Some MPs have accused the Ahmadinejad administration of deliberately keeping the foreign currency market in a state of fluctuation in order to make greater profit from the sale of state dollars.
The government has denied the allegations and blames the intensification of international sanctions for the steep fall in the national currency.
In first half of 2009, the dollar was traded in Iran at about 10,000 rials, but in the past year the exchange rate in the free market has risen to 35,000 rials.
EU and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector have reduced Iran’s oil revenues by half, which has had a direct effect on Iran’s foreign currency reserves.