0701 GMT November 19, 2019
First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on Tuesday called on Iran's top legislative arbitration body to ratify two bills that deal with fighting money laundering and terrorism funding.
“Given the approval of the FATF and the CFT at a meeting of the heads of the three branches of power and the endorsement of the Leader, the Expediency Council should approve the bills as soon as possible,” IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, a global dirty money watchdog on Friday gave Iran a final deadline of February 2020 to comply with international norms.
Last October, Iran's Parliament passed four bills put forward by the government to meet standards set by the FATF.
Only two of them have so far gone into effect and the fate of the two others, one on Iran’s accession to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the other one a bill amending Iran’s Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) law, is still in limbo at the Expediency Council.
The top legislative arbitration body has to give its final approval for the two bills to become law.
Jahangiri implied that without the bills, the government would have difficulties.
“You cannot tie one's arms and legs and ask them to swim in the sea,” he said.
The vice president added that people should “be informed about all matters, including negotiations within the government, Parliament…, and the Expediency Council”.
In is Friday statement, the FATF said it was asking members to demand scrutiny of transactions with Iran and tougher external auditing of financing firms operating in the country.
“If before February 2020, Iran does not enact the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards, then the FATF will fully lift the suspension of counter-measures and call on its members and urge all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures, in line with recommendation 19,” it said.
Foreign businesses say Iran’s compliance with FATF rules is key if Tehran wants to attract investors, especially after the United States re-imposed sanctions on Iran last year.
France, Britain and Germany have tied Iran’s compliance and removal from the FATF blacklist to a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran designed to avert US sanctions.
In Iran, however, there are divisions over complying with the FATF. Supporters say it could ease foreign trade with Europe and Asia when the country’s economy is targeted by US sanctions.
Opponents argue that passing legislation toward joining the FATF, could hamper Iran’s support for its allies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif deplored the global anti-money-laundering watchdog for increasing pressure on the Islamic Republic, describing the FATF’s statement as a “politically-motivated” move.
“The Islamic Republic, with its domestic laws, pursues the fight against money laundering as a necessary reality and a domestic goal,” Zarif said.
“The FATF’s decision is totally politically-motivated and we strongly disagree with it, but for the sake of our own national interest, we have taken all the necessary steps to fight against the financing of terrorism and money laundering,” he added.
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.