0610 GMT July 18, 2019
In recent years, considerable efforts have been made in Iran to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The Parliament has approved a law on fighting money laundering, the Iranian cabinet has signed a by-law in this respect, the Anti-Money Laundering High Council holds regular sessions to make macro-policies in this respect, banks and financial institutes have established anti-money laundering organizational units, bourse, insurance companies and other economic entities train their staff on fighting money laundering and even auditors and financial inspectors scrutinize anti-money laundering checklists and evaluate the performance of domestic companies.
Despite all these measures and efforts, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in a partial move, put Iran on its blacklist of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). The truth is that other blacklisted countries are miles away from Iran in combating money laundering. Some maintain that, like a large number of other international organizations and entities, FATF is also a marionette controlled by Western nations which feel a great deal of hostility towards Iran, and its reports on Iran's economy are biased, not based on the economic realities of the country and only aimed at undermining Iran and the Islamic Revolution.
Interestingly, even countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are listed in better positions than Iran. The question is whether Iran really lags behind these countries in combating money laundering and terrorism financing. The answer is definitely a resounding 'no'.
Given that Myanmar is also on the list, doubts surround the veracity of this claim. Do Western nations hold the same enmity towards Myanmar? Or why Syria, whose enmity with the West has led to protracted brutal military conflicts in that country, is ranked higher than Iran on the list? Another example is Libya which even ranks higher than Syria on the list.
Even if the above appraisals hold true, what could be done to improve the country's ranking on FATF list. It is not prudent to refute the importance and effectiveness of the group and its reports and declarations. The truth is that almost all important international organizations and entities, such as the UN, WTO and IAEA, have been established to serve and safeguard the interests of their founders, i.e. a handful of Western countries. Nevertheless, this is not a good pretext to overlook the scope of their effectiveness and the importance of their decisions. When we can safeguard our own interests by complying with international regulations, it is not logical to go against them.
The FATF lists are effective in international relations and equations. Leading international financial or credit institutes take extreme caution in establishing relations or partnership with a country listed as non-cooperative or a high-risk territory, or even shun fostering such relations. Even if they opt for cooperation, they impose the strictest conditions on the country for this partnership, to avoid future risks or troubles.
Iran does not deserve to be given the same status as Myanmar and other countries mentioned in the list in international arenas. We are even worthy of better positions compared to Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Iran has not dodged its responsibilities in combating money laundering and terrorism financing. We even march ahead of a large number of other countries in these respects.
We however, have failed to present our achievements and efforts well to the world; otherwise, FATF would not have included us on its blacklist among some of the worst countries in terms of money laundering and terrorism financing.
It is high time for the world to recognize Iran as a leading state in combating economic crimes. This should be proclaimed publicly so that no one can ignore it.