According to a report in the Wall Street Journal the US Treasury Department is worried that Iran will use crypto to circumvent its sanctions against the country, which it accuses of sponsoring terrorism.
As a result, two Iranian individuals, Mohammad Ghorbaniyan and Ali Khorashadizadeh, have been sanctioned for their part in laundering bitcoin obtained from the so-called Sam Sam cyber attack on critical US infrastructure, including hospitals.
The pair converted the bitcoin to Iran’s rial fiat currency. With bitcoin at year lows such activities, going forward, could prove to be highly profitable, assuming that bitcoin has now found a floor at $3,500. Indeed the Iranian cyber warfare operatives would do better to hang on to the crypto and forget about changing into rial. Crypto watchers will be hoping that the Iranians do start to hoard bitcoin as opposed to flipping it and adding to selling pressure against the cryptocurrrency.
The US is trying to stop Iran selling its oil on the open market after pulling out of the nuclear deal with the country. However, European countries and many others besides are not playing ball with the US sanctions, with the EU for one setting up payments systems that by-pass the US dollar networks.
Alireza Daliri, deputy head of the country’s Science and Technology Department, said at the time: ““We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country.”
Venezuela has created its own national crypto – the Petro – in its attempt to get around US sanctions.