Iranian authorities have seized nearly 10,000 illegal cryptocurrency mining devices since March. According to reports, many of the seized crypto mining rigs were operating in public locations that receive free or heavily-subsidized electricity, such as schools and mosques.
Kambiz Nazerian, head of Tehran Electricity Distribution Company, said Monday that Iranian authorities have discovered and seized 9,404 illegal cryptocurrency mining devices in Tehran since the beginning of the Persian calendar year which started on March 21, local media reported.
He explained that the mining equipment was discovered by inspectors in different districts of the Iranian capital. Media reports have suggested cryptocurrency mining is increasing in Iran due to the relatively low electricity costs in the country, where it is heavily subsidized. U.S. sanctions that bar Iran from accessing the international financial system have reportedly also contributed to the increase in mining activities and the use of cryptocurrencies.
In 2018, Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear pact under then-President Donald Trump, reintroducing crippling sanctions against Iran that have led to a shrinking economy and the collapse of the national currency, the rial. The fall in the value of Iran’s currency in recent years has made people inclined toward digital currencies.
Iranian authorities have regularly announced the discovery of illegal cryptocurrency mining machines in different parts of the country over recent years. Many of these unauthorized cryptocurrency mining operations were based in public locations, such as schools and mosques, that receive free or heavily-subsidized electricity.
Last week, Alireza Managhebi, the chairman of Iran’s Importers Group and Representatives of Foreign Companies (Imports Association), stressed that a stable regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies should be established for cryptocurrencies in order for them to be successfully used as a means of payment for imports.
Meanwhile, the governor of the central bank of Iran (CBI), Ali Salehabadi, recently said that the purchase, sale, and investment of cryptocurrencies are prohibited.
Managhebi has, however, now questioned, “… 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?”
After opining on the significance of the dollar and crypto in the market, he added, “It is necessary to train people for using this new technology in the country and have stable laws in this regard.”
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence also issued a statement in May declaring that it has blocked 9,219 bank accounts belonging to 545 individuals due to suspicious foreign currency and cryptocurrency transactions.