Iran administration ‘to modify bill on CFT, re-seek approval’

Press TV – An Iranian vice president says the administration of President Hassan Rouhani will take prompt action to apply the necessary changes to a bill on joining global safeguards to combat the financing of terrorism (CFT) that was initially approved by the Parliament but has now been rejected by Iran’s Guardian Council.

Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs Hossein-Ali Amiri told Khabar Online news portal on Sunday that the administration will be sending experts to the pertinent parliamentary committee to work on the necessary modifications to the bill.

In its original form, the bill was drafted by the administration of President Rouhani and forwarded to the Parliament roughly three years ago as one of four bills meant to bring about Iran’s membership in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization that is based in France.

The FATF has various safeguards, including ones to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

The Iranian parliament passed the particular bill on CFT in early October. The bill was then constitutionally bound for vetting by the Guardian Council. A spokesman for the oversight body tweeted on Sunday that the bill had been studied and sent back to the Parliament over certain “flaws and ambiguities.”

According to the Iranian Constitution, the Parliament will now have to modify the bill to accommodate the Guardian Council’s viewpoints. If, after modification, the Council still deems the reforms as inadequate, the fate of the bill will have to be decided by another decision-making body, namely Iran’s Expediency Council.

Amiri said the administration would work to correct the bill in such a way as to meet the Guardian Council’s expectations and avoid a referral to the Expediency Council.

“As a country worst affected by terrorism,” Amiri said, “Iran is a pioneer in efforts to seriously combat terrorism financing; and accession to the convention (the CFT) is considered to be in line with the Iranian establishment’s general policies to fight terrorism.”

He said Iran believes it has to have financial and banking relations with other countries, and accession to the CFT is “a requirement” to standardize the Iranian banking system’s relations with those of other countries.

“Therefore, the administration will do its best to correct the bill (on CFT) and to meet the Guardian Council’s reservations and turn [Iran’s] accession to the CFT into law at this stage,” the Iranian vice president said.

Iran’s membership in the FATF has had its opponents in the country, who claim that by joining the task force, Iran will no longer be able to aid such groups as the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah, which certain countries consider as “terrorist.”

But the Iranian administration argues that the bill has been drafted in such a way as to avoid financial action that is in accordance with the definitions of third parties. President Rouhani has said Iran would continue to be able to assist resistance and liberation organizations and groups according to the provisions of the bill his administration has drafted while simultaneously being a party to the FATF.

The FATF has blacklisted Iran but has several times suspended the application of countermeasures to give Iran time to deliberate on accession. The task force has set its latest deadline for February.