File - In this Dec. 30, 2017 file photo, Iranian protesters chant slogans at a rally in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
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Iran's central bank has ceased issuing permits and licenses for new private banks or commercial lenders, after the collapse of several major institutions froze the savings of hundreds of thousands of depositors and helped fuel anti-government protests.The lenders were again a focus of anger as demonstrations swept through Iranian cities from late December in the biggest challenge to Iran's religious system in nearly a decade.The demonstrations targeted Iran's political and religious establishment.Last November, Iran's central bank chief Valiollah Seif described the way credit institutions had operated as a sort of pyramid scheme, saying in an interview with state television that the institutions would pay unsustainable interest rates – sometimes as high as 89 percent – using money acquired from new depositors.
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