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Former Iranian Central Bank Chief Handed 10-Year Prison Sentence

Valiollah Seif (file photo)

A court in Iran sentence the former governor of the country’s central bank to 10 years in prison for violating Iran’s currency system, a judiciary spokesperson said on October 16.

Besides violating the currency system, Valiollah Seif also had a role in smuggling foreign currency, judiciary spokesman Zabihollah Khodaeian told state TV.

Ahmad Araqchi, a then-deputy to Seif, was sentenced to eight years on the same charges, Khodaeian said.

Eight others were also sentenced to various prison terms, he said. All of the defendants have the right to appeal.

Seif was governor of Iran's central bank for five years, until 2018, under former President Hassan Rohani. Araqchi was his deputy from 2017-18.

State TV said they were involved in violations of the currency market in 2016, a time when the Iranian rial dropped sharply in value against major foreign currencies.

The defendants illegally injected $160 million and 20 million euros into the market, state TV said.

The rial exchange rate was at 39,000 to $1 in 2017 at the beginning of Araqchi's time in office, but it reached more than 110,000 to $1 by the time he was dismissed in 2018. The change partly coincided with severe U.S. sanctions imposed on Tehran.

The rial has tumbled from a rate of around 32,000 rials to $1 at the time of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers to around 27,000 rials to $1 in recent months.

The currency unexpectedly rallied for some time after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal and reimpose crippling trade sanctions on Iran in 2018.

The sanctions have caused Iran’s oil exports, the country’s main source of income, to fall sharply.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP