Iran Continues Clamp Down on Illegal Crypto Mining

Updated by Geraint Price
In Brief
  • 9,404 unauthorized cryptocurrency miners have been seized in Tehran since March.
  • Despite the clampdown on miners, Iran seems to be incorporating the digital sector in foreign trade.
  • The CBI chief said it is unlawful to buy or sell cryptocurrencies in Iran.
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Authorities in Iran have seized over 9,000 illegal crypto mining rigs in Tehran in the last five months.

Kambiz Nazerian, the head of Tehran Electricity Distribution Company, said that mining devices were found in various areas of the Iranian capital, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Iran has become an increasing global concern for its attempts in finding ways to circumvent U.S. sanctions. 

Iran authorities promote crypto for imports

Blockchain analytics company Elliptic estimated last year that 4.5% of all Bitcoin mining occurs in Iran, allowing the nation to evade trade sanctions.

However, authorities have been clamping down on illegal mining in an attempt to control domestic energy consumption. Reports claim some crypto mining operations in Iran are housed in buildings like mosques and schools where electricity is free of charge. 

As of June, electricity to 118 legal crypto mining facilities in Iran was cut off amid a seasonal spike in power demand, according to Bloomberg.

Despite the clampdown on miners, Iran seems to be incorporating the digital sector in foreign trade. The head of Iran’s Importers Group and Representatives of Foreign Companies (Import Association), Alireza Managhebi, recently said that infrastructure and stable regulations must be in place before cryptocurrencies can be successfully used for imports.

Managhebi claimed that using cryptocurrencies for imports can be advantageous if the appropriate framework is developed and applied. “Our concern is that this new trend could lead to the creation of rent for a certain group,” he said.

“The question is, has the government developed consistent regulations for the cryptocurrency uses so that they will not change within two months and the businessmen active in this field will not be harmed?” he added.

He also underlined the need for stable laws in this area and the need to train people to use this new technology in the country.

Illegal to trade or invest in crypto

It is illegal to buy or sell cryptocurrencies in Iran, though it is legal to mine them and use them to pay for imports, according to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). 

The bank’s governor, Ali Salehabadi, made the statement in a televised interview striking down the legality of trading and investment in crypto assets.

According to the bank chief, those with official authorizations are allowed to mine digital currencies for imports. Meanwhile, the Islamic country also recently made its first official import order using cryptocurrency in an order worth $10 million, further raising concerns about sanctions avoidance.

 

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