Secretary: Iran’s EC Likely to Declare Final Decision on FATF Conventions Early Spring
TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council (EC) Mohsen Rezayee said on Wednesday that the Council will possibly declare its final decision about the country’s approval or rejection of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conventions and requirements early spring.
“The final view of the EC about the FATF will possibly be declared in (the Iranian month of) Farvardin (to start on March 21),” Rezayee told reporters in Tehran.
He added that one of the problems about ratification of the FATF conventions is that the government has not yet given any guarantee that if Iran approves the conventions, it will definitely be endorsed by the FATF or will face new demands by the West.
Rezayee described the US sanctions as another concern of the EC members, saying that approving the FATF conventions and requirements before removal of the sanctions can harm Iran because it will block the country’s efforts to bypass the illegal embargos.
In a relevant development on Tuesday, Iranian parliamentarians signed a statement, voicing strong opposition to the country’s approval of the FATF conventions and requirements.
“A group of MPs issued a statement opposing Iran's endorsement of the FATF conventions,” senior MP Qassem Sa’edi told FNA.
He added that 170 legislators have so far signed the statement, noting that the signatures are increasing.
“In this statement, the MPs explicitly have stated their opposition to Iran's endorsement of the FATF conventions,” Sa’edi said.
Meantime, an informed source at Iran’s Expediency Council (EC) told FNA that the Council will not declare its final decision about the FATF on its Wednesday meeting.
Iranian legislator Behrouz Mohebbi Najm-Abadi had said last Tuesday that ratification of the remaining provisions of the FATF will impede Iran’s bypassing of the US sanctions.
“While our banking system is under the harshest US sanctions, the implementation of the FATF provisions will hamper our ways to circumvent these sanctions,” Najm-Abadi said.
The lawmaker, who is also a member of the Parliament's Planning and Budget Commission, added, "Implementing the FATF bills will bring about serious consequences for the country.”
“Presently, financial institutions based in neighboring countries, including banks, exchange offices and private companies, are helping Iran to circumvent the sanctions," Mohebbi said, warning that the implementation of the FATF bills will provide information to the US and the others sanctioning Iran and could block such economic dealings.
He stressed that approving the bills will harm many sectors, including the oil sales and the national currency value.
In relevant remarks last month, a senior Iranian legislator in open remarks to the country's officials reminded the devastating impacts of Tehran's trust in the UN nuclear watchdog which led to the leak of the Iranian scientists' information who were later assassinated, cautioning that meeting the Financial Action Task Force requirements could repeat the same bitter experience.
“We had this bitter experience in the (International Atomic Energy) Agency’s inspections and now we should not repeat it with the country’s financial information,” Eqbal Shakeri told FNA.
He warned that the IAEA and FATF all operate under the supervision of the arrogant countries and take orders from them, adding that observing the FATF rules and regulations will produce results similar to what happened for the Iranian nuclear scientists.
The FATF placed Iran on its blacklist in February after Tehran refused to fully adopt its provisions.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry at the time denounced the move, and said the decision materialized what the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the three sponsors of terrorism in the Middle East, wished against Tehran.
"Unfortunately, this is also part of the politicization of international mechanisms [carried out] by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the Zionist regime (Israel). Given their influence on these mechanisms, they are trying to politicize them,” former Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.
"Saudi Arabia, as the central bank of terrorism and the Zionist regime as a terrorist state, are providing terrorist groups and organizations around the world with the most support," he added.
However, they blacklist Iran which has the highest level of cooperation and transparency in the field of combating money laundering and financing of terrorists, he added.
Mousavi emphasized that Iran has been implementing all laws and regulations related to money laundering and financing of terrorism for more than two years, saying, "International mechanisms have advantages and disadvantages and placing Iran on FATF's blacklist came despite all efforts we have made inside the country and all regulations we have tried to observe."
Iran has been required to fulfill dozens of FATF recommendations to enhance its status from a blacklist of non-cooperative countries, while the country is under US sanctions. The country's status in FATF has no impact on toughening or easing the US sanctions.
FATF has required Iran to implement a number of moves that include endorsement of several conventions.
Palermo bill is one of the four government bills seeking to bring Iran's anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing standards into line with those defined by the FATF.
The parliament has approved all the measures but except for the bill that updates Iran's domestic law on countering financing of terrorism. All the rest have been rejected by the Guardian Council – a watchdog that ensures laws are in line with the Constitution and Sharia.
The bills on Iran’s accession to the Palermo Convention and the convention against the funding of terrorism (CFT) were rejected by the Guardian Council in November 2019 due to some flaws that violated the country’s Constitution. The bills were then amended by the Iranian Parliament, waiting for the next steps in the Guardian Council.
To fulfill FATF requirements, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has proposed four bills to the parliament for approval, two of which are still undecided, including the Palermo Convention. They have been referred to the Expediency Council for final approval.
Yet, Iran has recently approved a national anti-money laundering (AML), which was a domestically-developed bill.
In its October 2019 meeting, the FATF decided to extend the deadline for Iran until February to complete reforms under the specified action plan that includes a list of 9 major moves, including the opening of its financial transactions data bank to the FATF that is headed by the US Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary heading the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Marshall Billingslea.
The Political-Defense-Security and Legal-Judicial Commissions of the EC declared last January that endorsement of the Palermo bill would run against the country's interests.