The FATF’s financial “noose” divides the Iranian presidential candidates

The long-debated issue of Iran joining the rules of the international financial regulator, the Paris-based Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), has emerged to divide the seven candidates running in the controversial presidential election on June 18. One described the FATF as “a noose” around the country’s neck.

Iran has been on the FATF blacklist together with North Korea since February 2018 because it failed to enact laws introducing transparency rules to combat money laundering, corruption and the financing of “terrorism”. All FATF members – which host most of the world’s financial centers – must exercise increased diligence and countermeasures against blacklisted states.

Proponents of FATF membership, including President Hassan Rouhani, argue that it is necessary to expand Iran’s international trade even if current US sanctions are not relaxed. Hardliners and some principleists argue that such transparency would make Iran vulnerable to US sanctions and limit its ability to evade sanctions or support proxy groups like Lebanese Hezbollah. Rouhani government officials and some reformists also accused the principleists of having a personal interest in sanction evasion practices.

Speak at a meeting with university students on Wednesday [June 2], said hardliner Alireza Zakani that joining the FATF was not critical to the economy and that US sanctions were damaging Iran because Rouhani’s “incompetent” government was too focused on doing business with the US and Europe. “The FATF is like a noose that we want to put around our own necks,” he said.

Abdolnasser Hemmati, the former central bank governor who is supported by the center-right Executives of Construction party, spoke out clearly in favor of joining the FATF on May 29. Reformist Mohsen Mehralizadeh, who also supported accession, accused Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi (Raisi), widely regarded as the top candidate in the elections, and other principles in a discussion on the clubhouse motion on Friday [accession]. “

Mehralizadeh promised to have Raeesi and the principal’s four other candidates explain why they opposed both the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers and joining the FATF.

Unlike Zakani, the principled candidates seem unsure whether they are addressing the FATF as an election issue. Raeesi has not commented on joining recently. In 2018, he said joining “enemy conventions” like the FATF would not ensure that hostilities against Iran would end. He said the FATF refused to accept Iran’s argument that it was wrong to list certain groups as “terrorists”.

Saeed Jalili, the former chief security officer, has apparently not mentioned the FATF since the election began. In a March 3 tweet, he accused the Rouhani’s government of “neglecting major economic problems” and “investing hope in someone else’s body”. He said the government was neglecting “economic opportunities for the country …[while diverting] public opinion on the [belief that] Problems can be solved by joining the FATF. “

Another presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezaei (Rezaee), plays a special role in joining the FATF as secretary of the Arbitration Council, which arbitrates between state bodies and participates in two draft laws for two years to comply with the FATF rules after they are passed by parliament were – then supported the Rouhani government – but was rejected by the Guardian Council.

In a campaign meeting with business leaders from the private sector, including members of the Chamber of Commerce, Rezaei said on June 1 that the Advisory Board was keeping the issue of FATF membership open and that in the event of an election for president, it would make decisions after “clarifying ambiguities” will. He made the delay because the government did not respond to the council’s requests.

Government spokesman Mahmoud Vaezi told the IRNA news agency on Friday that voters were aware that Rezaei and others who had delayed the drafting of the law were now claiming they would solve the problem. “The government had the will [to join the FATF] but they tied it to the sanctions and now they are tying sanctions to the FATF. “In March, Vaezi described the lack of action to get off the FATF’s blacklist as” self-sanctioning “.

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