Economy, Business And Markets

Anti-Money Laundering Law Passed

Finance Desk
Anti-Money Laundering Law Passed
Anti-Money Laundering Law Passed

Iran took a meaningful stride toward upgrading its banking and financial laws closer to international standards with the Guardians Council ratifying a long-pending bill to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The bill–drafted by the government in 2010—had underwent a tortuous path, as it was passed by the parliament in 2011 but was rejected by the Guardians Council. It was sent for revision to the judiciary and was once again tabled in the parliament where lawmakers ratified it as a law in the current Iranian year (ending March 19).

The revised bill was finally approved by the Guardians Council and became a law on March 3.

The Guardians Council, made up of six Muslim clerics appointed by the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and six lawyers elected by the parliament, is charged with ensuring draft laws comply with Islamic laws and Iran's Constitution.

On Par With Int'l Laws

Hamid Tehranfar, Central Bank of Iran's deputy for supervision affairs, welcomed the new development on Tuesday, saying he was "very satisfied" that the anti-terrorism bill now had a statutory status, adding that the Iranian law is on par with international anti-money laundering laws and regulations.

"Although we had a set of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism measures in place, they were not in the form of a comprehensive and clear-cut law, which opened us to criticism by foreign banks and international regulatory bodies," Tehranfar said in a news conference at CBI's headquarters in Tehran.

"The measure is in line with our efforts to reform our banking laws and upgrade them to the level of global standards and this is why we voluntarily asked the International Monetary Fund to review our anti-money laundering regulations so other countries' banks feel reassured. The IMF will announce its assessment in 2018."

Tehranfar explained that the law addresses various aspects, including a "definition of terrorism" as per international norms, outlining methods of financing terrorism as well as punitive and deterrent measures to prosecute criminals.       

In January, world powers led by the United States and the European Union lifted most sanctions on Iran in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

As part of sanctions relief, most Iranian banks were reconnected to the SWIFT international payment network last month, allowing them to resume cross-border transactions with foreign banks. But because of foreign institutions' legal fears, operations were limited.

Asked by Financial Tribune how the passage of anti-money laundering law would ease foreign banks' fears in dealing with Iran, Tehranfar said it would be "very effective."

"I believe this law will be very helpful in sending a message of goodwill to financial bodies across the world and would also be effective in allaying their fears in doing business with our banks," he said.

According to the official, the text of the law will soon be translated into English and other languages so that foreigners will become familiar with its contents.

Rating Improvement

Tehranfar hoped that the new measure would help improve Iran's rating in different areas, including the risk of doing business in the country.

"It would herald other reforms to restructure Iran's banking system, which is beset by outdated laws and regulations after years of sanctions isolated it from global interactions," he said.

"For the coming year, we will continue to promote reforms of the banking industry, including the adoption of Basel II and Basel III principles."

Tehranfar welcomed the entry of international rating agencies like Moody's and Fitch into the Iranian market, but said CBI has not been contacted by any agency, except KPMG.