'Sultan of Coins' Executed in Iran

Two men hanged in Iran for hoarding gold coins as the country wages war on economic crimes

Iran has executed two men convicted of illegal currency trading as Tehran steps up its crackdown on alleged financial crimes in the face of economic hardships heightened by US financial sanctions.

One of the two executed men was Vahid Mazloumin, dubbed the "sultan of coins" by media, a trader accused of manipulating the currency market, according to Mizan, the news site of the Iranian judiciary.

Mazloumin, 58, had been arrested in July for collecting the coins over 10 months to agitate the market.

The special courts were set up on the request of the Judiciary chief from Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei who has called for "swift and just" legal action to confront an "economic war" by foreign enemies.

Mazloumin was allegedly caught with two tons of gold coins, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA).

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

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"The octopus-like network disrupted the economy by buying, selling and smuggling foreign currency and gold coins", Mizan said.

They were sentenced to death in September after being convicted of "disrupting the economy" through the creation of a network trading in illegal currency and gold coins.

Iran does not publish official statistics on the number of people it executes.

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

Many Iranians have stocked up on gold coins and foreign currencies to protect themselves from the collapse of the domestic currency, the rial, which has fallen some 70 percent in value in the past year. The ruling had been upheld by the Supreme Court.

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

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