Iran’s currency, the rial, hit a record low against the dollar on Wednesday, the ISNA news agency reported, based on rates in black market trading that the government has tried to ban.
The rial’s plunge, to 18,000 to the dollar, comes ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting next Monday that is expected to add further sanctions on Iran’s economy.
The Tehran government has tried to shore up the value of the rial in recent weeks by imposing a lower rate in banks and currency exchange bureaus and banning transactions outside of those outlets.
But many exchange bureaus have refused to buy or sell dollars at the imposed rate, and black market dealers have managed to continue to do business despite the presence of police deployed to enforce the ban, according to witnesses in the center of Tehran.
A website, mesghal.ir, that gives real-time values for the rial against other currencies, quoted a price of 18,200 to the dollar. Access to the site has been blocked on the Internet inside Iran, although people with a VPN (virtual private network) have been able to get around the filter.