Friday , 8 December 2023

Iran’s police step in to contain foreign currency debacle

Al-Monitor -After two months of fluctuations in the foreign exchange market, with the US dollar rate breaking all records in Iran, the police have stepped in to prevent the further devaluation of the rial on the open market.

Over the past six months or so, the dollar has jumped from 39,000 rials to around 49,000 rials.

According to Tasnim News Agency, the police force and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) initiated a joint operation Feb. 14 to control the foreign exchange market.

Gen. Hossein Rahimi, Tehran’s chief of police, said Feb. 14, “Following the operation, which began this morning, 10 money changers were closed down and 16 money changers were given a warning. So far, 90 middlemen have been arrested.”

He said these events occurred after “joint groups of police forces and Central Bank experts went to the exchange market to study the licenses of money changers, buyers and sellers of foreign currencies.”

Rahimi said the operation had been successful and the dollar rate had dropped by 1,000 rials.

While fluctuations in the foreign exchange market persist, parliament members are starting to protest the Hassan Rouhani administration’s and the CBI’s management of the situation.

Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the chairman of parliament’s economic commission, said in parliament Feb. 14, “In recent weeks, due to mismanagement of the foreign exchange market, our national currency’s value has decreased by 25%, which has a negative effect on attracting foreign investment and also has inflationary effects.”

He continued, “The government previously announced that it had [managed] to decrease the inflation rate, but the current situation has challenged those remarks.”

Pourebrahimi addressed moderate parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, saying, “I ask you to enter the issue of the foreign currency exchange rate. The Central Bank has been inefficient at managing the foreign exchange market.”

He also told Larijani, “You should notify the president: The foreign exchange market can be managed.”

Based on a report published by Mehr news agency, 90 parliament members have put Rouhani on notice over the foreign exchange crisis in Iran.

In other news, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi elaborated on the announced suicide of a sociology professor in prison who had been arrested on espionage charges.

Dolatabadi said Feb. 13, “Kavoos Seyed Emami held Canadian citizenship and was one of the primary contacts of a US intelligence officer in Iran.” He added, “During his trips to Iran, the US intelligence officer stayed at Kavoos Seyed Emami’s house.”

Seyed Emami was one of the founders of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, one of the most prominent nongovernmental organizations in Iran focused on the environment. But in the view of Dolatabadi, its main purpose is espionage.

“Based on the investigations, the members of this network installed a number of cameras in some of the strategic areas of the country, which was apparently for monitoring the environment — but this was a cover-up for monitoring the country’s missile activities, and [they] had sent the recorded information to foreigners,” Dolatabadi said.

Seyed Emami’s alleged suicide has stirred anger both in Iran and abroad, with many questioning the authorities’ narrative of events.