New FATF Extension Sets Clock Ticking for Automatic Blacklisting of Iran

By Hamideh Taati

Laws that would bring Iran into conformance with international anti-money laundering and terrorism financing rules have been delayed once again. For more than two years the Majlis and the Expediency Council have continued to delay compliance with the regulations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

As FATF extended the previous deadline of February, and gave the Tehran until June to pass the necessary laws, the regime continued to strive to minimize the limiting impacts on its financing of terrorist groups in the region.

However, this four-month extension has a specific deadline set for the results. If the regime does not accept the conditions by June 2019, it will be blacklisted automatically. State-run “Keyhan” daily makes it very clear with this headline: “A Four-Month Deadline for Iran to Surrender”.

The four bills required to satisfy FATF conditions are:

– the counter financing of terrorism Law

– the AML (anti-money laundering),

– the amendment to join CFT (counter financing for terrorism),

– the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

The Guardian Council, who vets legislation against the regime’s Islamic principles, has not approved the last two bills, as yet.

The current chair of FATF and U.S. Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, made the conditions very clear. He said that if Iran does not pass the measures before June, countermeasures will automatically kick in. “That is a significant indication from the FATF that time has expired, the action plan is overdue and we expect it to be implemented without delay,” Billingslea told journalists. He added that FATF members worldwide would be required to step up supervision of Iranian bank branches on their territory, including on-site inspections.

In 2017, Iran was ranked first in the world for highest risk of money laundering, according to the global Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index. With this in mind, the regime will also be required to comply with seven very difficult conditions, according to Billingslea.

While FATF is not related to U.S. sanctions, non-compliance by the regime has a negative effect on its status.

On February 22nd, 2019, Mostafa Mir-Salim, a former minister of the regime said, “If Iran accepts FATF conventions, none of the problem relating to the sanctions is going to be solved. Evading sanctions will definitely be more difficult both in terms of acquiring our necessities, as well as providing support for the resistance front (the regime’s term for its terrorist proxies).”

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