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Iran arrests 90 FX traders in bid to halt rial slide

Iran arrests 90 FX traders in bid to halt rial slide

Iranian police cracked down on unlicensed money changers in Tehran on Wednesday, arresting around 100 traders, Tehran's police chief told local media, in a sign that authorities are concerned about speculators pushing the rial to record lows.

Financial analysts attribute the fall of the rial to several causes, including a decline in Iranian interest rates since September and worries about whether the United States will withdraw from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The currency since then has dropped to a record low of 48,400 on Wednesday.

The living of many global sanctions that resulted from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, raised hopes that the currency would regain its lost value.

But the currency has continued to weaken, analysts say, particularly in the previous year as the Trump administration adopted increasingly aggressive policies toward Tehran's rulers. His threats to tear up the nuclear deal have scared off many foreign investors and prevented worldwide banks from re-engaging with Iran.

Rahimi told a news conference that the wave of arrests targeted "brokers" of the dollar on Iran's black market, adding that the police entered the currency line after the market witnessed many fluctuations that led to the rise of the dollar.

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The operation was carried out in cooperation with the Central Bank of Iran, which is under fire for the unprecedented growth in the rates of foreign currencies, particularly the USA dollar.

Iran's banks have offered sky-high rates in recent years - often over 20 percent - as they compete for deposits against many individuals and businesses who prefer to keep their money in dollars or real estate. Iran's central bank recently decreed they will no longer offer rates above 15 percent.

Iran's government has in recent days repeatedly called on people to refrain from rushing to panic buy hard currencies or follow speculators.

He noted that a high-profile figure dealing in foreign exchange was arrested in the raid.

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