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Iran: Statements on Spread of Money Laundering Spur Anger Against Zarif

Iran: Statements on Spread of Money Laundering Spur Anger Against Zarif

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 - 08:15
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (REUTERS)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Recent statements by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif about the spread of money laundering in his country stirred a wave of angry reactions among opponents to Iran’s plans to join money laundering and counter-terrorism financing agreements.

Zarif had pointed out in controversial statements on Monday that many were benefitting from money laundering in the country, less than a week after the guardian council refused to pass a government law adopted by parliament on combating the financing of terrorism. The Iranian government is trying to pass domestic laws enabling it to join the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The FATF has granted Iran until February to complete necessary reforms in the area of anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism. In a statement issued following the conclusion of the group’s plenary meeting in Paris last month, the FATF announced that it had “decided at its meeting this week to continue the suspension of counter-measures.”

The foreign minister’s statements coincided with the central bank's assertion that it had been cut off by the SWIFT financial network, which regulates financial relations between international banks.

Official news agencies quoted Zarif as saying that money laundering was rampant in the country. His statements come amid controversy over the impact of the laws on the activity of the IRGC, Al-Quds Force, and pro-Iranian militias in the Middle East.

The foreign minister asserted that those who profit from money laundering were spending millions of dollars to prevent the passage of legislation requiring more financial transparency.

MP Ali Akbar Karimi said Zarif’s statements about the outbreak of money laundering were “biased and opposed to national interests”.

The MP hinted at summoning the foreign minister to parliament to provide clarification about his recent declaration.

“We will ask for his definition of money laundering to be aware of the case,” he said.

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