Iranian Trader on US Sanctions List Claims He’s Innocent

Iranian Bitcoin trader Mohammad Ghorbaniyan is claiming that he has been wrongfully blacklisted.

Ghorbaniyan was one of the wallet holders whose blockchain addresses and names were recently included on the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list.

However, the trader said he was unaware of the tainted Bitcoin’s origins. According to OFAC, the crypto was extorted from over 200 victims, including universities, hospitals, corporations, and government agencies that have been affected by the SamSam ransomware virus.

In an interview, Ghorbaniyan revealed that both his Gmail and accounts were suspended after the listing. He admitted that he converted Bitcoin to Iranian rials for FBI listed individuals Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, saying:

“I didn’t know the SamSam criminal activities were associated with the Bitcoins I received from these two customers and I’m honestly still not sure if these two people are behind the SamSam crimes.”

“I do a standard know-your-customer (KYC) procedure. And there’s no reason to be suspicious of my customers once they do KYC,” he added.

Ghorbaniyan’s perspective raises questions on how grassroots Bitcoin adoption and black markets overlap, particularly in places with opaque regulatory requirements.

The Bitcoin trader claims that they are an Iranian exchange working under Iran’s law. He said they record every trade information, including KYC data from their clients and screenshots of chats. “We never violated the laws of our country,” he said.

Last weekend, Ghorbaniyan met with the Iranian cyber police to discuss the next steps, hoping that the US will remove his name from the list.

“Before accusing people of criminal activities, the Treasury must notify the international police to request data and explanations from the Iranian police, which would have come to us. We could have stopped this misunderstanding and wrong accusations,” he stated.

The US Treasury has not yet commented on the issue.