As Economy Withers, Iran Imposes Harsh Crackdown on Fraud

As its economy buckles, Iran is zealously cracking down on financial fraud, the Wall Street Journal reported. Central to its efforts is a fast-track fraud court approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in August that has sentenced dozens of people, including some 50 men this month, to up to 20 years for paying bribes, embezzlement and damaging the economy. In November, authorities executed two men accused of smuggling foreign currency and manipulating the gold-coin market, the Iranian judiciary’s news service reported. Officials arrested local Toyota and Renault executives on unspecified fraud charges and a Chinese car importer accused of failing to deliver purchased cars. And this year they have arrested hundreds of foreign-exchange dealers for black-market dealing, the judiciary said. On Saturday, a man was executed after his conviction on charges of bank and commercial fraud related to the road-tar trade. Precise numbers of the penalties are difficult to assess due to the opacity of Iran’s justice system and a lack of regular updates from officials. But experts say Tehran’s efforts to stifle corruption are growing more frequent and harsh as Iran’s economy worsens with the reimposition of U.S. sanctions in November, raising government fears of social unrest. Read more. (Subscription required.)