EghtesadOnline: The Financial Action Task Force’s latest verdict regarding Iran, based on which active countermeasures were suspended again, has “opened up some space” for major international companies to start working with Iran once more, the minister of communications and information technology said.
“The US and a number of Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Argentina, were looking to return Iran to its previous condition [of being a target of FATF countermeasures and create new restrictions by applying pressure,” Mahmoud Vaezi also told IRNA.
However, he added, “owing to the nuclear accord and normalization of Iranian ties, many Asian countries and allied nations along with the European Union and Britain resisted the pressures and did not let our country regress”.
FATF, the international standard-setting body on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism, voted in its June plenary week to extend the suspension of active countermeasures against Iran, but did not take the country off its blacklist of violating nations, according to Financial Tribune.
Vaezi said the fact that FATF has not set a deadline for the extension of suspensions, as it had last year, is a positive sign.
According to the minister, the top-tier delegation sent by Iran to FATF meetings emphasized on two issues that the intergovernmental organization specializes in.
“The first was that as a victim of terrorism itself, Iran is strictly against any transfer of money that would find its way to terrorist groups,” he said.
Iran has devised regulations to combat financing of terrorism in the past and will continue to devise new regulations “so that no Iranian money and no money going through Iran” can reach terrorists.
Vaezi noted that the other significant point stressed upon by Iran is the matter of money laundering which itself can at times relate to terrorism.
The country has a clear stance that “we are against any kind of money laundering under any label”, he said, while noting that the FATF decision was in part due to the stance of the parliament and the administration.
In March 2016, the Iranian Parliament adopted a law for combating the financing of terrorism and expressed a high-level political commitment to implement the related action plan.
Iranian authorities have requested an International Monetary Fund assessment of the AML/CFT regime against the FATF standards, which will take place late 2018.
Iran has also become an observer in the Eurasian AML/CFT group.
Vaezi referred to combating money laundering as a serious global approach that had intensified especially after the September 11 attacks and terror activities of Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the self-styled Islamic State terrorist groups among others, stressing that all countries announced their commitment to prevent the financing of terrorism.
“Iran is among those countries and according to the framework and principles that we have in our country, we will fight terrorism financing and devise necessary laws,” he added.
Reiterating that the international climate is shifting in favor of Iran, Vaezi pointed to the recent landmark deal with the French firm Total as an example.
The $4.8 billion deal, which is to be invested in Iran, “is a huge development that also changes banking ties” and creates confidence in other countries that Iran is a safe environment for investment.
The deal with the French energy giant is the first major contract concluded between Iran and a top western company and has been signed for the development of Phase 11 of the South Pars Gas Field in the Persian Gulf.