'Sultan of Coins' Executed for Hoarding Tons of Gold

'Sultan of Coins' Executed for Hoarding Tons of Gold

According to Mizan, the court had found them guilty of forming "a corruption network, disrupting the country's economic, foreign currency and monetary system by carrying out illegal transactions and major smuggling of foreign currencies and coins".

Vahid Mazloumin and his accomplice Mohammad Esmaeil Qassemi were sent to gallows for hoarding gold coins and other hard currency, manipulating the gold coin market and a following price rises in other commodities.

Special courts focused on financial crimes were set up in August with the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said last month the pair were sentenced to death because they had been "spreading corruption on earth".

"These men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television", he said, adding that global law forbids the death penalty for non-lethal crimes. Their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court in October.

The Tehran prosecutor on November 14 said Mazloumin's "network was one of the most influential unlawful activists of the foreign-exchange and coin market". His defense claimed that the Iranian Central Bank did not have any limits on the amount of coins a person could hold. His case is still up for appeal before the Supreme Court.

The rial currency has lost about 70 percent of its value in 2018 under the threat of revived United States sanctions, with heavy demand for dollars and gold coins on the unofficial market from ordinary Iranians trying to protect their savings.

Iran has suffered a sharp economic downturn this year, fueled largely by US President Donald Trump's decision in May to withdraw from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose crippling unilateral sanctions on Tehran.

As a result, a cost of living crisis has seen demonstrators take to the streets against perceived corruption.

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