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Iran Media: Gold Traders' Execution A 'Clear Message'

Vahid Mazloumin is seen appearing in court for the first time on charges of manipulating the currency and gold market on September 8, 2018.
Tehran, Nov 15, 2018 (AFP) -

Iran's newspapers on Thursday said the execution of two financial traders was a "clear message" to others seeking to "disrupt" the country's economy.

Vahid Mazloomin, dubbed the "Sultan of Coins", and his accomplice Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi, were both executed less than a month after being convicted of "corruption on earth" -- one of Iran's most serious charges.

They had been accused of exploiting a surge in gold demand from savers spooked by this year's currency crisis, said the judiciary's news agency Mizan online.

News of the executions was hard to find on reformist dailies' front pages, but conservative papers highlighted it with large pictures of Mazloomin and excerpts of his last interview with Mizan before he was executed.

The ultra-conservative Javan daily wrote on its front page that "the execution of economic corruptors started with the Sultan," accompanied by a picture of Mazloomin smoking a cigarette during the interview in prison in which he spoke about his life.

Vatan-e Emrooz used the same picture full-page, writing in bold letters that "the Sultan of Coins was hanged."

The hardliner Keyhan daily called for more trials, saying it was now time for the "officials in the banking system ... complicit in this corruption" to be tried.

Jam-e Jam daily, which acts under the supervision of state TV, wrote that the hanging sends a "clear message" to other "economic disruptors."

Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn this year, in part because of the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May, leading many Iranians to rush to secure their savings by buying foreign exchange and precious metals.

The slide of the rial against the dollar started roughly a year ago, and at its height lost around 98 percent of its value against the greenback year-on-year. The price of gold coins quadrupled in the same time.

Since January, there have been widespread reports of dealers and middlemen manipulating the markets by hoarding dollars and coins in order to push up prices.