EghtesadOnline: Iran's Parliament in its latest open session on Tuesday continued to review the government-proposed amendments to the country's existing Anti-Money Laundering Law and ratified new measures, as the Financial Action Task Force's next plenary meeting draws nearer.
FATF is expected to announce a highly-anticipated verdict on Iran in June.
According to ICANA, the official news outlet of the parliament, 148 lawmakers from a total of 210 on Tuesday approved an article about capital and profit related to crimes linked to money laundering to replace a previous article.
The new article states that the original amount of capital and its profit will be confiscated and if the collective amount goes up to 10 billion rials ($239,000), the offender will be sentenced to two to five years in prison in addition to a fine, Financial Tribune reported.
In case of higher amounts, the offender will receive higher prison sentences that include more than 25 years in prison and fines, according to the Iranian judicial law.
The previous article called for a cash penalty equal to one-fourth of laundered revenues in addition to the confiscation of the original amount, and did not specifically outline a prison sentence as it had redirected that responsibility to a judiciary verdict.
Three clauses of the article, dealing with confiscating money laundering yields changed to other assets or transferred to a third party and technicalities of punitive measures, have been left untouched but three other clauses were added.
"In case the money laundering offense is committed in an organized manner, it would raise punitive measures to the highest level [of more than 25 years in prison and the biggest cash fine]," states the fourth clause while the fifth says if legal persons commit money laundering offenses, they will be subject to an additional cash fine equal to two to four times the amount of the laundered money.
These amendments were proposed by the government when President Hassan Rouhani officially submitted the AML/CFT amendment bills to the parliament on Nov. 20.
But when MPs reviewed the proposed AML reforms, they also ratified a clause of their own and added it to the same article. It states that "if the capital [referred to in the fifth clause] is owned by someone else and it is proved in a court of law that it is not related to money laundering, they must be returned to the original owner".
Another government-proposed article in the amendments approved by 145 members of parliament has a host of clauses concerning regulations and commitments for state-owned bodies to combat money laundering more effectively.
These clauses include the task of better identifying real money laundering suspects, if they act through their lawyers or other third parties; offering transparent and periodic reports to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Ministry of Economic and Finance Affairs; safeguarding archival information on offenders for at least five years and devising standards to educate government officials on money laundering offenses and how to implement the AML guidelines.
Lawmakers ratified another article of the amendments that states, "Branches of public courts in Tehran and if necessary, in provincial centers, will be specifically assigned to deal with money laundering and related offenses".
After Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that "all executive branches must have utmost sensitivity toward combating money laundering", lawmakers also overwhelmingly approved an article that said punitive measures for committing a money laundering-related crime or being an accomplice to it may be eased or heightened in accordance with the Islamic law.
At the end of Tuesday's session, 117 members of parliament ratified all the amendments to Iran's existing AML law proposed by the government.
One week ago, they had approved the general outlines of amendment bills to Iran's existing AML and CFT laws and discussed the details.
FATF, the Paris-based intergovernmental organization in charge of devising AML/CFT regulations and standards, has for the third time suspended the implementation of active countermeasures against Iran pending its next vote in June.
Iran's Parliament passed the amendments to its AML/CFT laws to address deficiencies identified by FATF and exit the organization's blacklist of non-compliant countries.