Economy, Business And Markets

Support for Iran as FATF Decision on the Horizon

Support for Iran  as FATF Decision  on the Horizon Support for Iran  as FATF Decision  on the Horizon

Ahead of a highly-anticipated decision by the Financial Action Task Force regarding Iran, support for the country is growing even as the US is wielding its influence to reinstate countermeasures.

FATF is an intergovernmental agency tasked with devising regulations to set the anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism regimes in place.

Last June, the organization welcomed measures by Tehran to upgrade its status and ruled that active countermeasures against the country will be suspended, but also kept Iran on its blacklist of violating countries, giving it one year to make reforms. 

The deadline has now passed and following its plenary week from 18-23 June, FATF is expected to announce its latest decision about Iran, either keeping it on its blacklist, extending suspension of countermeasures, or removing it from the list altogether.

Many top Iranian officials, including Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyebnia, have repeatedly emphasized that Iran expects a full removal from the blacklist when the decision is announced on Friday. However, there are different sides to the story.

In a talk with IRNA, an informed source claimed that “the amount of global support for Iran in the [FATF] sessions is unprecedented”.

The unnamed source added that in the meeting held in Valencia, Spain, the US administration has engaged in widespread talks “with the support of a number of nations” with the ultimate goal of persuading FATF to reinstate countermeasures against Iran.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the lobbying group that dictates pro-Israel policies to the US Congress and executive branch, had also tried and failed to stop the suspension of countermeasures against Iran last year, the source added.

According to the Iranian source, the country has “commenced measures to align its internal regulations with the full cooperation of FATF, which will eventually lead to an upgrade in the ranking of our country with the organization”.

In March 2016, the Iranian Parliament adopted a CFT law and expressed a high-level political commitment to implement an action plan. Iranian authorities have requested an IMF assessment of the country’s AML/CFT regime against FATF standards, which will take place late 2018. Iran has also become an observer to the Eurasian AML/CFT group.

In its latest report on Iran’s economy in early March, IMF also acknowledged that Iran has made progress in strengthening the AML/CFT framework.

IRNA’s source also referred to a recent article in Wall Street Journal by former US senators Joe Lieberman and Mark Kirk as evidence of the strong US opposition and meddling in FATF decision.

In the article published on June 19, the senators alleged that the nuclear deal provided the space and opportunity for Iran to “demonstrate its commitment to stopping the flow of funds to terror groups and roll back its money-laundering operations”, an opportunity which it squandered away.

Therefore, they claimed, “we encourage the FATF to not only call on its members to reinstate sanctions against Iran, but that they implement more stringent resolutions as the organization itself recommends for every jurisdiction that poses a threat to the global financial system”.

Lieberman, the former US senator from Connecticut and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, is chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran, a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization in the US that seeks “to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional superpower possessing nuclear weapons”.

Kirk, the former US senator from Illinois, is senior advisor at UANI.


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