Iran’s Supreme Court on Sunday confirmed the death sentences against two individuals for manipulating the gold coin and foreign currency markets. One of the convicts is Vahid Mazloumi, who has traded gold and foreign currency in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar for thirty years and is known as the “Sultan of Gold.”
In July, Tehran police arrested 300 money changers for “disrupting the gold coin and foreign currency markets,” according to Deputy Police Chief Eskandar Momeni. “People should know that the disrupters of the gold coin and currency markets will be dealt with decisively,” Momeni told Fars News.
Gold coins are a staple investment in Iran, in light of the tanking of the rial. Over the past year, gold coins have quadrupled in value and then some, and the resulting further weakening of the coin has been blamed on dealers like Mazloumi, who are being accused of exploiting people’s anxiety over the economy.
The rial’s dramatic decline began even before President Donald Trump withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the resumption of US sanctions against Iran. The US dollar, which back in February was worth 50,000 rial is now traded for about 160,000 rials and rising.
The Sultan of Gold’s execution will likely be carried out against the background of Trump’s early November sanctions on Iranian crude oil exports, the Islamic Republic’s top source of foreign currency – at which point Tehran police and the courts would have to find new scapegoats for the falling rial.