TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran executed the so-called “Sultan of Coins” and his accomplice on Wednesday for hoarding gold coins and other hard currency, signaling zero tolerance as it tries to shore up its currency in the face of an economic crisis.
State TV reported that Vahid Mazloumin and his accomplice, Mohammad Ismail Ghasemi, were hanged early Wednesday. They were convicted of manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.
Iran detained Mazloumin, 58, in July for hoarding two tons of gold coins.
Iranians have stocked up on gold coins and other safe-haven investments as the local currency has plummeted in recent months amid renewed U.S. sanctions following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in May.
The Iranian rial has plunged to 135,000 to the dollar from last year’s rate of around 40,500.
Last week, President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic’s already-ailing economy is in a “war situation.” Sporadic protests over the deteriorating economy have erupted in recent months.