File photo: Vahid Mazloumin (centre) is seen appearing in court for the first time on charges of manipulating the currency market. Image Credit: Reuters

Tehran: Iran executed a gold dealer known as the ‘Sultan of Coins,’ in a warning to merchants not to exploit the country’s financial troubles as US sanctions squeeze the economy.

Vahid Mazloumin was sentenced to death in October after being accused by Iranian authorities of contributing to price hikes by hoarding gold. An assistant, Mohammad Esmail Qassemi, was also hanged early on Wednesday, state-run Iranian Students News Agency said.

The very spectre of sanctions, even before they started resuming in August, plunged the currency market into turmoil, sending the rial plummeting about 70 per cent against the dollar, fuelling a surge in prices and encouraging illegal trading.

Authorities have vowed the nation will weather the bruising US measures against Iran’s energy, banking, automotive and gold sectors, without saying how. In an effort to restore calm and project a sense of order, they’ve repeatedly threatened to take harsh measures against anyone “disrupting the economy.”

On Tuesday, Tehran police said security forces had arrested about 130 illegal currency traders in recent days.

Mazloumin didn’t hold a permit to trade gold and foreign currency, yet had formed the largest illegal network in that area, according to state-run Fars news agency. He instructed his team to corner the gold coin market to resell at higher prices, amassing about 2 tons of them, local media said.