Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, warned exporters that they risk prosecution if they keep their foreign currency earnings offshore as Tehran struggles to stabilise the plummeting rial.
The Iranian currency has fallen about 13 per cent against the dollar during the past month, fuelling already high inflation as the Islamic republic’s economy is battered by crippling US sanctions and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is the biggest fall in the rial for more than a year. The currency had stabilised after losing more than half its value after US president Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew the US from the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers and imposed new sanctions on the country.
Washington’s punitive measures have severed Iran’s links to the global financial system, stymied its ability to export oil and caused a foreign currency shortage. But the authorities have blamed the latest fall in the rial on Iranian exporters in sectors such as petrochemicals, whom they accuse of keeping their foreign currency earnings in overseas accounts.
“If anyone exploits [the situation], the central bank will disclose their names and the judiciary will deal with them,” Mr Rouhani said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. “We will not allow them to misuse the situation at a time people are suffering.”
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