0708 GMT November 19, 2019
President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday called for clearing the way for Iran’s financial and banking transactions with the world by adopting international rules against money laundering and terrorism financing.
“We need to take action at global forums and conventions to safeguard the interests of the country and to facilitate financial and banking transactions,” Rouhani said at a weekly cabinet meeting, adding that such matters cannot be dealt with via “slogans.”
He said Iran is “proud of combating terrorists and corruption”, however, the country “should not allow to stand accused of money laundering” in its banking system.
“This is harmful to the country,” Rouhani stressed.
A global dirty money watchdog on Friday gave Iran a final deadline of February 2020 to comply with international norms or face consequences.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said in a statement that 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,” the watchdog said.
Foreign businesses say Iran’s compliance with FATF rules is key if it wants to attract investors, especially after the United States reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic 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, however, argue that passing legislation toward joining the FATF, could hamper Iran’s support for its allies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
President Rouhani’s government and his supporters in Parliament have been trying to secure the adoption of four bills to bring Iran into compliance with FATF regulations.
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 must give its final approval for the two bills to become law.
“Why do some people throw a wrench in the four bills approved by the government and Parliament and stand in front of the government and Parliament?” Rouhani asked, noting that “such actions are not in the country's interest.”
On Tuesday, First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri urged the council to ratify the two bills “as soon as possible”.
“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,” Jahangiri said.
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.
Rouhani on Wednesday echoed his deputy’s remarks.
“Our duty is to set the stage for economic competition on the international level, because if the doors are locked, nothing can be done.”
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.