The head of Iran's Blockchain Association, Sepehr Mohammadi, recently claimed that the US government has confiscated over 500 BTC from Iranian citizens traveling into and out of the country.
In April, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) banned banks and financial institutions in the country from dealing with cryptocurrencies. The CBI claimed that
“All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals’ money.”
However, in May of this year, it was reported that Iranians have purchased $2.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency so the BTC confiscated is just a drop in the bucket. Mohammadi explained in the article:
“… that Iran’s Blockchain Association has done necessary measures to remove bitcoin confiscation, mentioning we negotiated with some experienced attorneys who know capital market and FATF well, but no attorney has accepted this project yet, on the other hand, because of the cryptocurrencies’ use ban in Iran such as bitcoin, FATA Police haven’t taken any action in this case.”
Unfortunately for Iranians who have had their bitcoin seized, there is really no legal recourse inside of Iran. Back in April, the Central Bank of Iran banned all forms of crypto, so citizens cannot legally hold bitcoin anyway. Mohammadi says that IBA is looking to take international legal action but has as of yet not found an expert to take the case. This may set a precedent for how crypto is handled internationally when citizens cross borders.
Notably, the US government currently has economic sanctions in place against Iran. On May 8, 2018, the current administration re-imposed nuclear-related sanctions on the country. The President issued a National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) directing the US Department of the Treasury and other Departments and Agencies to take the actions necessary to implement his decision.
Earlier today, President Donald Trump and Iran’s Rouhani just traded angry threats to each other, as evident by this tweet.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018