Iran sentences the former central bank governor to 10 years in prison

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A court has sentenced the former governor of Iran’s central bank to 10 years in prison for violating the country’s currency system, a spokesman for the judiciary said on Saturday.

In addition to violating the currency system, Valliollah Seif also had a role in smuggling foreign currency, judicial spokesman Zabihollah Khodaeian told state television.

Ahmad Araghchi, then deputy for Seif, was sentenced to eight years on the same charge, Khodaeian said. Eight others were also sentenced to various prison terms, he said. All defendants have the right to appeal.

Seif was governor of the Central Bank of Iran for five years until 2018 under former President Hassan Rouhani. Araghchi was his deputy from 2017 to 2018.

State TV said they were involved in violations of the foreign exchange market in 2016, a time when the Iranian rial suffered significant losses in value against major foreign currencies.

The defendants illegally injected 160 million dollars and 20 million euros on the market, says state TV.

The Rial exchange rate was 39,000 to 1 dollar in 2017 at the beginning of Araghchi’s time, but it reached more than 110,000 to 1 dollar when he was fired in 2018. The change coincided in part with harsh US sanctions against Tehran.

The rial has fallen from a rate of about 32,000 rials to $ 1 at the time of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers to about $ 27,000 to $ 1 in recent months. The currency was raised unexpectedly some time after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal and reintroduce crippling trade sanctions against Iran in 2018.

The sanctions have meant that Iran’s oil exports, the country’s main source of income, have fallen sharply.

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