Envoy: Money laundering body’s decision on Iran guarantees banking ties 

June 24, 2017

TEHRAN – The Financial Action Task Force’s decision to suspend counter-measures against Iran “guarantees” stronger financial and backing ties with the country, Tehran’s Ambassador to London said on Friday. 

“In making the decision, European countries and giant economic countries of the world guaranteed the possibility of expanding banking and financial relations with Iran,” Hamid Baeedinejad said in a Telegram message. 

Established in 1989, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global standard setting body for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). 

Baeedinejad underscored that facilitation of financial transactions with Iran is “one of the major goals of the nuclear deal.” 

As a result of the international nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, many international sanctions against Iran were lifted in exchange for it scaling down its nuclear program. 

The United States, however, still has sanctions in place that prohibit trade with Iran in dollars and Iranian access to New York's financial system.

Global banks, therefore, have shown reluctance to do business with Iran for fear of running afoul of remaining U.S. curbs against Iranian organizations. 
Getting off the FATF blacklist has removed a major hurdle Iran faces in dealing with outside banks and other financial institutions. 

Tehran has complained that it is not getting economic benefits it was promised under the nuclear accord. 

In June 2016, the FATF welcomed Iran’s high-level political commitment to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies, and its decision to seek technical assistance in the implementation of the Action Plan. 

On Friday, FATF announced its decision to keep Iran out of its blacklist for the second time in a row. 

“In light of Iran’s demonstration of its political commitment and the relevant steps it has taken in line with its Action Plan, the FATF has decided to continue the suspension of counter-measures. The FATF will keep monitoring progress in the implementation of the Action Plan and consider next steps,” read part of the announcement. 

“The FATF, therefore, calls on its members and urges all jurisdictions to continue to advise their financial institutions to apply enhanced due diligence to business relationships and transactions with natural and legal persons from Iran, consistent with FATF Recommendation 19. The FATF urges Iran to fully address its AML/CFT deficiencies, in particular those related to terrorist financing,” it further highlighted. 

Prior to the body’s Friday announcement in Valencia, Spain, Iranian media outlets expressed concern that FATF might not extend Iran’s suspension due to powerful lobbying groups in the U.S. who had asked President Trump to intervene. 

“Under duress from European countries, the U.S. eventually acknowledged the draft backed by all important countries of the world,” Baeedinejad said in a reference to the lobbying. 

“In accepting the FATF’s decision, the U.S. was forced to confirm Iran’s effective international measures to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism,” he explained. 

AK/PA 

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