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Iran tries to obscure currency's new plunge

Published on Sep 10, 2012 5:28 PM

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran's currency plunged nearly eight per cent to a new record low against the dollar on Monday, but the dramatic drop was being suppressed within the country on mobile phone text services and some exchange websites.

One money changer told AFP by telephone that the street rate around midday (3.30pm Singapore time) was 26,400 rials to the dollar, sharply lower than the 24,000 rate late on Sunday. The Mehr news agency reported a rate of around 26,000.

Mobile telephone text messages that included the word "dollar" in English or in Farsi were censored, with the message not being received, AFP noted. The Farsi word for "foreign money" was also blocked.

But text messages containing the words "USD", "euro" or the $ symbol were all transmitted and received normally. Such text blocks on the word "dollar" were implemented before in Iran, on Jan 10, when the rial also dived precipitously. The country's two main mobile phone service providers, MCI and Irancell, claimed at the time they were not filtering messages.

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