Iran has created a fraud court to combat rampant financial malfeasance and attempt to aid its flagging economy.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the court was sanctioned by the country’s ruler, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in August.
Since the court’s inception, dozens have been sentenced and many have been executed. This month, 50 men were given 20 years in prison for bribes, embezzlement and damaging the economy.
Last month, two men were executed for allegedly smuggling foreign currency and illegally altering the gold-coin market. Hundreds of foreign-exchange dealers have also been arrested for black-market currency operations.
The efforts to hinder corruption are seen by many as a response to Iran’s tumbling economy, which was especially hampered by U.S. sanctions being re-imposed last month.
Ali Vaez, the Washington-based director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, said the country’s clamp down on corruption is part of a bigger political picture in the country.
“The fight against corruption in Iran has always been subjective and used as a political football,” Vaez said. “The system is starting to perceive endemic corruption as existential threat and is seeking to at least contain it.”
The goal of the court, according to Khamenei’s website, is “that the punishment of convicts of economic corruptions be carried out urgently and justly.”
Iran executed more than 500 people last year, according to numbers by Amnesty International.
U.S. sanctions have hurt Iran, and inflation hovers around 30 percent. The country’s currency, the rial, has shed more than half its value since January. The issues are causing social unrest and street protests.
The black market for U.S. dollars in Iran is flourishing, and Iranian authorities are cracking down. This has led to dealers asking for more profits because of the risk, which widens the gap between official and unofficial exchange rates — a gap authorities want to close to aid the economy.