The CEO of Iran’s largest stock exchange has stepped down after authorities busted an illegal digital currency block reward mining operation in the basement of the building hosting the exchange.
Ali Sahraee took the helm of the Tehran Stock Exchange in October 2020. However, as local media reports, his tenure has been cut short after authorities implicated him in a crime that has become quite common in Iran – illegal mining.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iranian authorities recently conducted a sudden inspection in the building hosting the exchange. They discovered that there were several block reward miners in the basement. The CEO had at first denied the existence of the mining rigs, before saying that they were for research purposes.
However, his deputy later stated that the exchange must take full responsibility for the crime, and Sahraee stepped down shortly after.
Mahmoud Goudarzi, the market vice president at the bourse, will take over as the head of the entity.
Illegal block reward mining has become worryingly common in Iran. Former President Hassan Rouhani at one point estimated that 85% of all mining in Iran is done illegally. These illegal miners were said to be draining about 2 gigawatts daily. The country has been cracking down on such operations and has seized thousands of mining rigs since then.
The illegal operations have sprung up despite the Iranian government adopting a friendly approach to the industry. In January 2020, for instance, the government issued 1,000 mining licenses to local entities.
Despite mining being legalized, the government had placed a temporary ban on the activity over the summer. President Rouhani issued the ban in May, citing concerns over the high energy usage. Iran has been experiencing an energy crisis, with large cities like Tehran experiencing frequent blackouts. The ban was lifted in late September.
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