Iranian MPs ask Expediency Council to approve FATF

December 25, 2019 - 18:42

TEHRAN – In a letter to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a number of MPs have pushed for the approval of the FATF by the Expediency Council.

Shahabaddin Bimeghdar, a lawmaker, told IRNA on Wednesday that the MPs are gathering more signatures about the need to join the Financial Action Task Force. 

It is said in the letter that being blacklisted by the FATF will isolate the economy which is already restricted by the United States “cruel sanctions”.

The MPs said failure to join the FATF will cause “closure of the bank accounts in foreign countries”, “accusations of money laundering against the country”, “international distrust”, “financial and banking crisis”, “inefficiency of Iranian bank branches in foreign countries” and also “destabilization in stock exchange market”.

Mahmoud Vaezi, President Rouhani’s chief of staff, said on Tuesday that being blacklisted by the FATF will definitely harm the economy.

Mehdi Zakerian, an expert on international relations, told ISNA in an interview published on Wednesday that joining the FATF will not prevent Iran to circumvent the U.S. sanctions.

Fatemeh Saeidi, a member of the Hope parliamentary faction, also told ISNA on Wednesday that those who opposes joining the FATF should accept responsibility for the consequences.

Mohsen Rezaee, secretary of the Guardian Council, said on Tuesday that Palermo and CFT bills are still under assessment in the council.

“The FATF-related bills (Palermo and CFT) are still under evaluation in the Expediency Council, so, I can’t say anything now (about the outcome of assessment),” Rezaee said, Fars reported.

In October 2018, the parliament voted to join the FATF. However, the Guardian Council rejected it. Now the ball is in the Expediency Council’s court. 

When there is a dispute between parliament and the Guardian Council the issue is referred to the Expediency Council for final arbitration.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said on October 18 that it has given Iran a final deadline of February 2020 to tighten its laws against money laundering in compliance with the global watchdog’s financial standards.

“If before February 2020, Iran does not enact the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards, then the FATF will fully lift the suspension of counter-measures and call on its members and urge all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures, in line with recommendation 19,” the FATF said in a statement, Reuters reported.

One of the actions Iran is required to take to appease the FATF is to ratify the CFT, the convention combatting the financing of terrorism.

The government is pushing for the approval of the FATF.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on December 16 that the Expediency Council takes the final decision on the FATF, expressing hope its decision would be in line with the country’s “expediency”.

Majid Ansari, a member of the Expediency Council, told IRNA on December 16 that the council is still studying the CFT and the Palermo bill.

He declined to comment about whether the two bills would be finally rejected or approved by the council.

The Expediency Council issued a statement on Saturday announcing that the two FATF-related bills of Palermo and CFT have not yet received green light, saying that the bills are under accurate assessment.

NA/PA

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