Iranian authorities have detained a deputy Central Bank governor amid street protests over the country's economic difficulties, state-run media report, as Iran prepares to face a return of U.S. sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
A spokesman for the judiciary was quoted as saying on August 5 that Ahmad Araqchi was dismissed from the post the previous day before being detained for alleged economic crimes.
The spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, did not elaborate on the charges.
Araqchi, who was the Central Bank’s vice governor in charge of foreign exchange, is a nephew of Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
Six other people, including four unauthorized foreign-exchange dealers, were arrested, Mohseni-Ejei said.
President Hassan Rohani's administration has recently replaced the Central Bank governor and taken other measures in an effort to shore up the national currency, the rial, which has lost more than half its value since April.
The bank’s new governor, Abdolnasser Hemati, is expected to unveil a new foreign-exchange policy on August 6, coinciding with the reimposition of U.S. economic sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 agreement between Tehran and world powers in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord in May, accelerating the drop of the rial.
As Iranians braced for the return of U.S. sanctions following a wind-down period expiring on August 6, demonstrations ignited by anger over high inflation and increasing economic hardship caused in part by the dramatic decline of the rial have sparked days of sporadic protests against Iran’s political and religious establishment.
The U.S. measures will ban purchases of dollar banknotes by Iran, prevent the government from trading gold and other precious metals, and block the country from selling or acquiring a number of industrial metals.
They also target Iran's auto sector and will ban exports of Persian carpets and foodstuffs such as caviar and pistachios to the United States.
Another round of sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector is scheduled to come into effect in early November.