Iran’s Central Bank Deputy Governor Stresses Bitcoin Trading Is Illegal In The Country
Holding, selling, and purchasing of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is illegal in Iran, an official with the country’s central bank has said, reports a local newslet Tasnim News.
Speaking to Tasnim, the Central Bank of Iran’s deputy governor in charge of new technologies, Nasser Hakimi, said on Monday that the Supreme Council on Countering Money Laundering had banned bitcoin trading.
He cautioned Iranians using cryptocurrencies that there are legal risks of investing in non-sovereign assets, which could land them in prison for up to 2-5 years plus fines under the suspicion of money laundering. Hakimi also cautioned the advertising firms promoting Bitcoin and other cryptos saying:
“I also caution people against the advertisements and marketers of pyramid style network companies that promote Bitcoin like a tree with gold coins in the Adventures of Pinocchio.”
Hakimi’s remarks comes days after an intergovernmental task force warned Iran to complete its financial reforms in line with global norms by June this year.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in February 2019 threatened the Islamic Republic with “consequences” if it fails to comply with the set guidelines. The consequences comprises of extending a boycott the country is already facing from the international banking system.
In the meantime, Iran’s hostility towards Bitcoin and other cryptos that have been blamed for aiding money laundering activities started to be seen as prudent at the start of the year. The Central Bank of Iran proposed to ban the use of global cryptocurrencies and various tokens as methods of payments only before February 2019, just one month before the FATF was set to make a decision on whether or not to remove Iran from its blacklisted countries.
Prior to the move to ban cryptos in the country, Iran has started a cash declaration regime in November 2017, implemented reforms to its Counter-Terrorist Financing Act in August 2018, and formalized amendments to its Anti-Money Laundering Act in January 2019. Although the FATF was pleased by these efforts, the institution decided to take more time before withdrawing the country from its blacklist.
“Once the remaining legislation comes fully into force, the FATF will review this alongside the enacted legislation to determine whether the measures contained therein address Iran’s Action Plan, in line with the FATF standards,” the global financial watchdog said in its June 2019 press release.
Political and Economic dispute
Following the recent US sanctions, Iran's economy has been struggling as foreign firms have been prohibited from doing business in the Islamic state. However, business people and companies have been able to circumvent the sanctions using Bitcoin and other cryptos as these transactions are anonymous.
In the recent past the US Treasury has realized that decentralized payments are undermining its sanctions. As a result, treasury has cautioned crypto services companies to quit offering their services to Iranians. This has prompted several companies like LocalBitcoin to close shop in Iran to avoid being on the US radar.
In the meantime, rather than fighting the sanctions, Iranian authorities have decided to come up with ways to resolve the political and economic problems and are now devising ways to stop the use of cryptos in the country. There have been a major crackdown on crypto mining farms in the recent past proving the government’s unfriendly crypto policies.
Is Iran using the fight against Bitcoin and other cryptos as a way of enticing the international community to lift the economic sanctions? Let us know in the comments section.