The director of the Tehran Stock Exchange has resigned following the discovery of cryptocurrency mining rigs in his company’s basement. The scandal has spread as workers licensed crypto miners in Iran have resumed work in the winter amid fears of new restrictions.
Iran stock exchange chief loses job for illegal crypto mining
Ali Sahrai, chief executive of the Tehran Stock Exchange, has submitted his resignation following the unveiling of a cryptocurrency mining machine in the company’s occupied building. Media reports of illegal mining operations in the market office were initially denied by the exchange. It has only agreed to launch an “investigation and research project” on liquidity outflows towards crypto assets in 2020.
According to another statement quoting the state-run Mashreq News, an internal inspection came into several mining instruments that were allegedly operated by the stock exchange. “During the investigation, we found that the activity was not fully recorded and disclosed in the report and by the company’s account,” the statement said. Ali Sahrai told the ISNA news agency when news of the investigation spread in the Iranian media:
I offered my resignation as director to allow for further investigations into cryptocurrency mining on the stock exchange and for market stability, which it accepted.
However, according to the Iran International News Portal, the country’s official news agency IRNA has presented a different account of the events. The report of the mining scandal, citing the English language version, claims that Sahrai was in fact fired from his position on the Tehran Stock Exchange market.
Iranian authorities allow licensed miners to resume work, reports say
The Iranian Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company, Tavani, which initially denied the existence of miners, declined to comment further after Ali Sahrai’s remarks, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said on its website. These rigs are believed to have used a lot of electricity and Tawani is going on this year after the energy-intensive illegal mining operations responsible for the country’s power shortage.
According to data released in September, the utility seized 216,000 mining machines from more than 5,300 underground crypto firms. During the scorching heat, Iran faced increasing demand for electricity for air-conditioning and had to deal with blackouts across the country. Power shortages force authorities to cut costs and cryptocurrency mining is targeted. Licensed mining farms were also shut down in May under a temporary ban imposed by former President Hassan Rouhani.
In August, Tavani announced that bans on crypto mining approved on September 22 would be lifted in the wake of the expected decline in electricity demand during the fall. Authorities in Tehran have now allowed licensed mining companies to resume operations, according to a report by the UK-based Iran International. However, Iran could experience power shortages again in the winter and restore mining restrictions.
The Islamic Republic recognized cryptocurrency mining as a legal industrial activity in July 2019, and the government introduced a licensing system for mining companies. Permits are issued by the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Commerce. According to Tawani, a total of 400 megawatts of electricity is required to make digital currency at 56 approved crypto mining farms, while the industry ministry has rejected claims that illegal miners use about 2,000 megawatts per day.
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