Afghanistan Shuts Down 16 Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Arrests Operators Cryptocurrency

Law enforcement in Afghanistan shut down more than a dozen crypto exchanges in Herat, detaining the people running them. The offensive comes after the introduction of an online currency exchange ban which the Taliban also appear to have applied to the coin trade.

Taliban Government Cracks Down on Crypto Trade in Afghanistan Citing Scam as Motive

Afghan security forces shut down a number of crypto exchanges in the western province of Herat over the past week, English-language portal Ariana News reported on Tuesday. At least 16 digital currency trading platforms have been shut down, the outlet disclosed.

The report quotes the head of the Herat Police Crime Unit, Sayed Shah Sa’adat, as recalling that Da Afghanistan Bank (touches), the country’s monetary authority, said in a notice that crypto trading has caused many problems, including scamming people. He also said:

We took action and arrested all the exchangers involved in the case and closed their stores.

Ghulam Mohammad Suhrabi, who heads the Herat Money Exchangers Union, explained that Afghan businesses are opening cryptocurrency accounts outside the country. “This currency is new to the market and has strong fluctuations,” he noted.

Afghan officials are likely referring to a statement by Kabul’s central bank which, according to a Bloomberg report in late June, said online forex trading is against Islam and banned it. Through a spokesperson, the regulator warned that anyone engaging in the activity would face prosecution. The bank representative said:

Da Afghanistan Bank considers online forex trading to be illegal and fraudulent, and there are no instructions in Islamic law to endorse it. As a result, we banned it.

In mid-July, DAB released another statement reinforcing the order, according to Ariana News. The bank said Afghans, especially in the capital, were still trading despite the ban. The authority stressed that it had not authorized any person or company to trade online and that those who continue to do so are breaking the law.

After the Taliban returned to power in Kabul, the weak Afghan economy fell into an even deeper crisis. The United States, which withdrew its forces in 2021, seized $10 billion in ATM assets and imposed sanctions.

Financial restrictions and the withdrawal of Western businesses have made it harder for the Afghan diaspora to send money home. As a result, many Afghans have turned to crypto, which has also helped them preserve their savings and prevent possible government seizure.

Keywords in this story

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Do you think Taliban-ruled Afghanistan will continue to crack down on crypto exchanges? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a tech-savvy Eastern European journalist who loves Hitchens’ quote: “Being a writer is who I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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