December 28, 2020
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is anticipating passing bills that would allow Iran to join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Two years ago, the government has introduced several bills to the parliament, including amendments to two local laws, in addition to the draft law to join the Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and the UN’s Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo), which paves the way for Iran’s compliance with FATF standards.
Last week, the government said that supreme leader Ali Khamenei agreed to discuss FATF again following talks between Tehran and Western parties on coordinating efforts before the new US administration takes office, which pledged to rejoin the 2015 nuclear accord and ease the sanctions imposed on Iran.
In this context, Iranian officials raised the issue of financial transactions related to COVID-19 vaccination, in an attempt to support the government’s decision to hold new talks on FATF.
Rouhani said Saturday that Washington was demanding Iranian transactions for novel coronavirus vaccines pass through US banks, and he expressed fear the money could be seized.
“Who can trust people like you? You have stolen our money everywhere you found it,” Rouhani said, addressing the US administration.
“We want to transfer money from a country where our money is” to buy the vaccine and “this country has accepted”, Rouhani added, without identifying the country in question.
For his part, Mohammad Sadr, a former reformist diplomat, said Saturday that there is likely to be less opposition from the Expediency Council to the bills designed to bring Iran in line with FATF regulations.
“We hope for a resolution to the issue if the government can present a good and well-documented case,” Sadr said.
Another member of the 44-member Expediency Council, hardline politician Mostafa Mir-Salim, however, declared that the council will turn down the bills.
“Circumstances have not changed,” he told Borna News on Saturday.
“There is more evidence now that in view of the cruel continuation and deepening of the [US] sanctions, joining the FATF [conventions] will be damaging to the country, revolution and people’s interests.”