TEHRAN, Iran — Two Iranian lawmakers have been arrested for unspecified actions described as “disrupting” the country’s car market, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Thursday.
The report said the two lawmakers — Fereydoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi — were initially taken to the Evin prison in Tehran but they were later released for about $85,000 in bail.
The report didn’t specify if the two have been charged with any financial crimes.
Iran is trying to crack down on corruption and has arrested several people since 2018. Two prominent local businessmen have been hanged.
Iran’s economy nosedived since the US pullout from the nuclear deal last year. Prices of cars have skyrocketed as Western manufacturers pull out of the country and foreign-produced parts are becoming harder to find. China is trying to fill the void.
The country’s president sent a bill to parliament Wednesday that would cut four zeroes from the value of the Islamic Republic’s sanctions-battered currency, the rial.
By sending the bill to lawmakers, President Hassan Rouhani’s government showed it was serious about an idea mulled for some time in Iran, where people discuss monetary transactions in both rials and — informally but more commonly — in tomans. A toman is worth 10 rials. If passed by parliament and approved by lawmakers, Iran’s Central Bank would in effect devalue the rial and rename it as toman.
Authorities have given no estimate for the cost of creating the new currency.
Iran’s rial has been battered by escalating US sanctions on the country since US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago.
On Wednesday, the rial traded 116,500 to $1. At the time of the 2015 nuclear deal, the rial traded 32,000 to the dollar.
As uncertainty over the Iran nuclear deal grew after Trump entered the White House, Iran’s already anemic economy nosedived. The country’s monthly inflation rate is at 40.4% and the national unemployment rate is some 12%. Among youth, it is even worse, with around 25% out of a job.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.