FM blames US policies for FATF’s possible blacklisting of Iran

FNA – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Tehran would blame the US policies if the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decides to put Iran’s name on its blacklist.

“All European, Asian and African ministers and representatives, including from Japan, China, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, etc., supported Iran in the recent days meetings (of the FATF) and only, the three regimes which are themselves terrorist and support terrorism, that is the Zionist regime which is the biggest world terrorist, the US regime whose terrorism was hated in the cowardly assassination of (IRGC Qods Force Commander) General Soleimani and is officially a supporter of financial terrorism and the Saudi regime which is infamous among all people by financial support for the ISIL, al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and others, have rocked the boat,” Zarif told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

He expressed confidence that conditions would be better than expected, and said, “Even if we return to the blacklist, it will be due to the US policies and its attempts to rock the boat.”

The FATF in October extended suspension of its measures against Iran, giving the country four more months until February 2020 to comply with requested recommendations.

“If before February 2020, Iran does not enact the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards, then the FATF will fully lift the suspension of counter-measures and call on its members and urge all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures, in line with recommendation 19,” the FATF said in a statement.

Iran has been required to fulfill dozens of FATF recommendations to enhance its status from a blacklist of non-cooperative countries, while the country is under US sanctions. The country’s status in FATF has no impact on toughening or easing the US sanctions.

FATF has required Iran to implement a number of moves that include endorsement of several conventions.

Palermo bill is one of the four government bills seeking to bring Iran’s anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing standards into line with those defined by the FATF.

The parliament has approved all the measures but except for the bill that updates Iran’s domestic law on countering financing of terrorism. All the rest have been rejected by the Guardian Council – a watchdog that ensures laws are in line with the Constitution and Sharia.

The bills on Iran’s accession to the Palermo Convention and the convention against the funding of terrorism (CFT) were rejected by the Guardian Council in early November due to some flaws that violated the country’s Constitution. The bills were then amended by the Iranian Parliament, waiting for the next steps in the Guardian Council.

To fulfill FATF requirements, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has proposed four bills to the parliament for approval, two of which are still undecided, including the Palermo Convention. They have been referred to the Expediency Council for final approval.

Yet, Iran has recently approved a national anti-money laundering (AML), which was a domestically-developed bill.

In its October meeting, the FATF decided to extend the deadline for Iran until February to complete reforms under the specified action plan that includes a list of 9 major moves, including the opening of its financial transactions data bank to the FATF that is headed by the US Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary heading the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Marshall Billingslea.

The Political-Defense-Security and Legal-Judicial Commissions of the EC declared last January that endorsement of the Palermo bill would run against the country’s interests.