Iran bans unofficial money trades after rial slip

January 8, 2012 17:20

TEHRAN - Iran's parliament cracked down on unofficial money traders on Sunday after new US sanctions helped trigger a currency crash as Iranians rushed to buy dollars.

The rial lost about 20 percent of its value against the dollar before the central bank intervened last week to try to stem further losses by injecting hard currency into the market.

At a special parliamentary debate on the currency crisis, lawmakers passed a measure imposing legal penalties on people who sell foreign currencies outside official exchange offices and banks where rates can be subjected to government controls.

The move is not expected to have an immediate impact on the price most Iranians have to pay for dollars which, even at licensed exchange offices, sell at a 40 percent premium over the central bank's "reference rate".

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