By Mehdi Garshasbi

A new wave of strange claims about Iran and the FATF

December 22, 2019 - 14:9

New media warfare has recently been launched about the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Some claims have also been stated in this regard that are far away from truth.

An assertion regarding the issue states that if Iran cooperates with the FATF, a global coalition against the Islamic Republic will not be created and the possibility of applying more pressure on the country will be eliminated. Can such assertions be accepted?

Cooperation, a wrong address by the FATF supporters to people

In response to the assertion, it should be noted that cooperating with the FATF is basically a side issue to the Iranian economy. Currently, the main problem of Iran’s e-economy is not the country’s non-cooperation with the FATF, but the U.S. extraterritorial sanctions. As long as the sanctions remain in place, the cooperation cannot resolve any problem.

For example, although Iran has been in the counter-measure list of the FATF from 2009 to 2016, it was only after the U.S. sanctions on the financial and banking sectors in 2012 that Iran’s financial transactions with foreign countries faced a problem. The matter shows well that foreign banks have refused to cooperate with Iran, not because of the FATF’s counter-measure list, but because of the U.S. sanctions and its heavy fines.

The remarks by authorities of foreign companies and banks are another proof of this matter. For instance, following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the CEO of Total Company Patrick Pouyanné abandoned the implementation of the South Pars phase 11 development scheme and said that the company is no longer able to stay in Iran due to the U.S. sanctions.

 Why the U.S. insist on Iran join the FATF-related conventions?

Contrary to some statements, if Iran joins the conventions related to FATF and becomes legally committed, it will be most likely that an international consensus against Iran be formed. By joining the conventions, Iran will be committed to report those transactions that are suspicious to any parties, including the United States. Therefore, if Iran fails to fulfill the request of the other party, it will be accused of violating the convention, and the possibility of forming an international consensus against Iran will increase.

 But if Iran accepts the request for the transparency of a suspicious transaction, it should, in fact, expose the unofficial ways of bypassing the sanctions to the Western parties.

How cooperation with the FATF results in more economic problems?

It should be noted that discovering ways to bypass the sanctions on Iran is costly for Washington.  Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran recently announced a $15 million reward for disrupting the IRGC’s financial operations. In such circumstances, the U.S. seeks to reduce and legitimize the cost of discovering ways of bypassing sanctions.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has explicitly claimed in July that, through the FATF, the U.S. is trying to discover how Iran bypasses sanctions.

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