Concern Over FATF Agreement

Under the agreement, Iran would be bound to treat resistance groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, as designated terrorists
Lawmakers have voiced concerns over guidelines recommended by FATF.Lawmakers have voiced concerns over guidelines recommended by FATF.

A top foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution advised other officials against engaging with the Financial Action Task Force that monitors money laundering worldwide, saying it would run counter to national interests.

"The FATF agreement is not in our national interest," Ali Akbar Velayati was also quoted by Fars News Agency as saying on Sunday. "Insiders should not act in support of the enemy's plots."

Reuters reported in late June that Iran had agreed to an action plan with FATF and the international group called for a one-year suspension of some restrictions on Tehran but still kept it on its blacklist of high-risk countries.

"The FATF, therefore, has suspended counter-measures for 12 months in order to monitor Iran's progress in implementing the Action Plan," the watchdog said in a statement.

The statement said if Iran fails to improve its alleged record on money laundering and financing terrorism as promised, the FATF's call for vigorous counter-measures will be reinstated. If there is improvement, the task force will consider further positive steps.

The action plan involves restrictions on a number of Iranian people and entities blacklisted for their connection to missile development programs and alleged terror activities, including some divisions of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

Lawmakers interviewed by ICANA on the agreement reacted with concern.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, stressed that Iran will never compromise on its national security.

He described as positive the government's agenda to take advantage of the sanctions-free situation to develop Iran's international relations, but warned that any interaction that risks undermining national security should be avoided.

"In my view, through international deals with Iran, western states are seeking to restrict its effective international presence and compel it to abandon certain aspects of its security," Falahatpisheh said.

Another member of the commission cautioned against acceding to the FATF agreement, citing its considerable repercussions.

"Under the agreement, Iran would be bound to treat resistance groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, as designated terrorists," Abolfazl Aboutorabi said.

"Iran should never join the agreement, because it would lead to grave consequences," he stressed.

Lawmaker Hossein Naqavi Hosseini highlighted another provision of the agreement that commits Iran to granting FATF access to documents relating to its financial deals with resistance groups.

"This is yet another grave issue with many dangerous dimensions," he said.

Mohammad Javad Abtahi, another member of parliament, denounced the agreement as a major setback to the Islamic Republic's "political and economic independence."

Tehran has complained it is not getting economic benefits it was promised during last year's negotiations on a nuclear deal with six major powers.

As a result of that accord, many international sanctions against Iran were lifted.

The United States, however, still has sanctions in place, which include a ban on Iran-linked transactions in dollars being processed through New York's financial system and sanctions on individuals and entities on a US blacklist of alleged terrorism supporters and human rights violators. International banks have held back from the Iranian economy because they are wary of getting into trouble with US authorities.

The key deterrent for foreigners is that they could face heavy US penalties for even unwittingly dealing with an Iranian party under sanctions.

The main challenge for any international company is vetting potential Iranian partners to ensure they are not on the US blacklist.