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Iran’s FATF Bid Awaits Expediency Council’s Green Light

Iran’s FATF Bid Awaits Expediency Council’s Green Light

Monday, 21 January, 2019 - 10:15
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei poses before delivering a speech marking Nowruz, Iranian new year, in this handout photo. Reuters
London - Adil Al-Salmi
The Iranian parliament has failed in gaining the ultra-conservative Guardian Council’s approval for Iran joining the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), leaving the dispute to be settled by Tehran’s Expediency Discernment Council.

The window for joining the international task force combating terror funding and financial corruption is narrowing down as state bodies of the cleric-led regime remain at sparring odds and undecided. The FATF has given Iran a February deadline to complete the necessary reforms for its membership.

If Tehran fails to secure its FATF membership, it risks stringent and suffocating international measures striking the Iranian financial and banking sector.

Parliamentarians rejected caving in to the Council’s seven observations undermining the CFT, one of the four bills put forward by the government to meet standards set by FATF. The Iranian parliament approved it by 143 votes to 120 on October 7, but still awaits the Council's okay to become law.

The Council, Iran’s largest supervisory committee that vets parliamentary decisions, is overwhelmingly tilted to the opinions of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as he is the direct authority behind the hiring of half of the body’s members, with the other half being appointed by Iran’s Chief Justice who is also empowered solely by a decree from Khamenei.

The Expediency Discernment Council, which Iranian deputies hope will reassert its support for passing the CFT, is also almost entirely molded by Khamenei, who once every five years elects 44 of the body’s members.

Iranian MPs, and the government under President Hassan Rouhani, continue to reaffirm that passing the four FATF-recommended bills will not affect the activities of the Revolutionary Guard and its foreign arm, the Quds Force, which has been the core argument behind the conservatives’ refusal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has repeatedly defended the government's plan, saying it was aimed at countering US pressure.

Remaining countries in the 2015 nuclear deal, including Russia and China, demand that Iran complies with international standards which dispel fears of the republic’s financing of groups put on international terror lists.

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