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Iranian Depositors Protest 'Theft' of Money at Major Credit Institution

Iranian depositors protest a loss of their funds outside a branch of the Caspian Credit Institution in the northern city of Rasht, May 1, 2018.

Iranians angered by lost deposits at one of Iran's major financial institutions have staged protests outside the lender's branches in two major cities.

Videos uploaded to YouTube by several Iranian opposition groups Tuesday showed protesters rallying outside of one branch of the Caspian Credit Institution in the northern city of Rasht.

Caspian is one of five non-bank credit institutions authorized by Iran's central bank. In the video clips, a group of women can be seen banging on the entrance of the institution and chanting slogans accusing Iranian authorities of stealing their money. Caspian, formerly known as the Arman Iranian Credit Institution, has debts that have left it unable to repay principle and interest owed to its depositors.

A Caspian branch in the northeastern city of Mashhad also drew protesters. Iran-based rights group Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) tweeted a video of what it said was a demonstration outside the branch Tuesday. In the clip, women lead a group of several dozen protesters, including men, in chanting slogans against President Hassan Rouhani, saying: "Rouhani the liar, where is our money?"

​Iran's Financial Tribune newspaper has reported that unlicensed financial institutions have been plagued by huge debts and unmet commitments to depositors in recent years. It said the central bank has been trying to dismantle, consolidate and register the institutions to deal with the problem.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Persian Service.