The call to protest came through a group channel on the smartphone app Telegram. Younes, a 42-year-old accountant at a saffron-importing company, like most of the group’s thousand or so members, had lost his savings when a financial firm promising huge returns went bankrupt amid bad investments and corruption.
Younes, who lives in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad, had used all his funds and borrowed from his employer to invest about $20,000. The firm was offering returns of up to 27%, up to 15 percentage points higher than banks were offering. Younes said he has recovered only about 20% of his investment.
“We lost all our fortune and no one cares,” said Younes, who didn’t want The Wall Street Journal to use his last name out of fear of government retribution. He said the firms appeared to have the backing of the country’s central bank. “Why wouldn’t we invest our money in a firm approved and licensed by the government offering more return?” he said.