The central bank of Iran has banned domestic banks and other financial institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies, citing money-laundering concerns first raised in a circular from December 2017, Reuters reported Sunday, April 22.

Reuters cites Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA as saying Sunday:

"Banks and credit institutions and currency exchanges should avoid any sale or purchase of these currencies or taking any action to promote them.”

Today, April 23, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (REFRL) cites further details from the December circular:

“All cryptocurrencies have the capacity to be turned into a means for money-laundering and financing terrorism and in general can be turned into a means for transferring criminals' money.”

The ban comes as the country braces itself for the possible renewal of U.S. sanctions on May 12, which has seen the national currency, the rial, plunge to unprecedented lows. Reuters further reports that Iran has unified its official and open market exchange rates and banned all money changing outside of banks, as it attempts to prop up the country's ailing financial institutions and halt further currency slumps.

Iran’s stance towards crypto toughened notably in February 2018, when local media quoted the central bank’s intent to “control and prevent” what it views as “highly unreliable and risky” digital currencies.

Concurrent reports in February of Iran’s inquiry into issuing a state-back digital currency prompted comparisons with Venezuela’s centrally-issued Petro, which many have viewed as a response to the country’s own crippling international sanctions.