EghtesadOnline: Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the judiciary has arrested 180 people on charges of violating forex regulations that were tightened recently to contain a sharp decline in rial’s value.
“Fifty cases were filed in connection with foreign exchange crimes, for which 180 people have been arrested, 2,450 bank accounts have been blocked and 700 billion rials [$16.6 million] have been confiscated,” Dolatabadi was quoted as saying by IBENA on Monday.
In response to the sudden hike in foreign currency rates in early April, which saw the rial trading at 62,000 to the dollar, the government decided to enforce a single exchange rate of 42,000 rials and ban any trading beyond that rate.
It was followed by several other restrictive measures, Financial Tribune reported.
The government stipulated, among other things, that travelers to foreign destinations can receive up to €500 or its equivalent in other currencies for the Commonwealth of Independent States and neighboring countries, and up to €1,000 for other countries.
According to the new rules, the possession of foreign exchange by individuals is allowed only up to a ceiling of €10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies and anyone possessing more than that amount should either deposit it in a bank or sell it to the banking system.
The Cabinet has also ruled that all exporters are required to return their export earnings to the country’s “economic cycle” either by selling them to or depositing them in banks or reusing it for imports.
This latest measure, in particular, has touched a raw nerve with the business community that regards the decision as an assault on open market rules and a return to protectionist policies.
The government has also come under criticism over a failure to allocate foreign currency for importing essential commodities such as medicines, which has undermined its campaign against the black market.
Dolatabadi said, “The government has not focused on the basic needs of the people and this has made them resort to the black market to meet their requirements.”