February 3, 2012
TEHRAN — Faced with a plummeting currency in the wake of toughened international sanctions, Iran is cracking down on black-market money changers and warning that major speculators could face execution.
The crackdown comes as Iranian authorities are struggling to stabilize the rial, which has nosedived amid announcements of new U.S. and European sanctions against Iran’s central bank and oil exports.
As a warning to speculators, several money changers working on the streets of central Tehran have been arrested by undercover police officers pretending to desperately seek foreign currency.
In addition, the chief of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, threatened Wednesday to seek the death penalty for major speculators. Speaking about the unrest in the foreign-exchange markets, he warned that “depending on the importance of their crimes, some of the economic corrupted can face execution,” the semiofficial Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying in a meeting with judicial officials on the currency crisis.