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EghtesadOnline: Sincere stakeholders, in the anti-FATF camp in Tehran, say now is not the time to embrace the Financial Action Task Force rules. Their argument is premised on the reality that the country is saddled with tough US sanctions and that the limited foreign trade and transactions would be jeopardized by the watchdog’s oversight.

Some, if not all, private businesses hold the view that the task force should wait until Tehran settles the deepening White House hostility and navigates its future path of action. 

There is yet another group that says the 190 plus states that have accepted FATF recommendations did so under normal economic conditions and not when an abusive superpower was so wickedly harming their economy and “put a gun on their head.” 

Right or wrong, these claims and counterclaims evoke dispute and disagreement between the two isles, as is conspicuous in recent weeks in headlines in the print media and news outlets affiliated to the pro and anti FATF camps.

Analysts and opinion makers without political leanings keep on appealing for wisdom and bipartisanship to an issue of monumental importance. 

Their central argument is that issues related to the economy must be taken up first not with politicians but with impartial experts with enough vision of how to use the world instead of being used by it. 


Changing Course 

As such, the proclamations of those who reject the compliance paradigm, even if vaguely convincing, are often questioned by larger contingents insisting that the country has been on the wrong economic track and now is the time to get things straightened out. 

Rejecting conspiracy theorists and their sycophants,     academia, prominent economic experts and stakeholders strongly believe that blaming others for our problems is good politics, but only in the short term. 

It is the view of many that opponents of the task force have a disdain for it laced with prejudice and dislike for conventions and treaties emanating from the western corridors.

On the platform of proponents one also finds informed minds supporting compliance with the Paris-based task force who have long promoted the cause of transparency, openness and responsibility in all things economic and due process. 

Those who teach politics, economics, law and international relations in our centers of higher learning believe that respecting international conventions has no contradiction with safeguarding national interest. There is no need to mistake one for the other. 

As global economic borders get thinner and start to fade, and interdependence becomes the global norm “We need to play by the rules if we want to interact with the intentional community,” says a board member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. 

Abbas Argun is a proponent of normal economic ties to the outside world in the framework of mutual interest and respect. 


Left Behind

“Not playing by the rules will leave us behind and impose high costs and tougher restrictions on our financial exchanges and access to advanced technology. By the same token, it will harm our foreign trade and by extension our national production.” 

Whether we like it or not, today FATF is the name of the game, which has given Iran until end of January 2020 to comply with international norms on anti- money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

In a statement in mid-October, the inter-governmental body said: 

“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.”  

What needs mention without indulging in illusions and tired clichés is the fact that many of our policy and decision makers have been anchored in the past. 

We need a new way of doing economics and the politics attached to important subjects that will decide the fate of our children and grandchildren.  

Taken at face value, FATF recommendations are in the interest of the comity of nations, international peace and harmony as it obliges all governments to take full responsibility for their actions or the lack of it. 

For instance it calls on states to:

  • criminalize money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing in accordance with international law   
  • establish a financial intelligence unit to collect, analyze, evaluate and disseminate suspicious transaction reports from financial institutions and other reporting entities 
  • supervise those financial institutions and other reporting entities to ensure compliance with customer due diligence and other requirements contained in the standards

The senior most official, dealing with the complexity of penalties imposed by the United States government on Tehran’s economic future, and the monumental hurdles in the way of our foreign commercial ties, is the governor of the Central Bank of Iran.

Abdolnasser Hemmati this week again stressed the need for complying with the rules of the task force despite the mounting US pressures and penalties. 

“If Iran is put on the FATF blacklist, it would have a negative impact” on our trade with other countries, including the few nations with which we still have economic and banking ties, he told reporters. 

At this critical stage, top on the national agenda is clearing the deck and functioning as a normal and law-abiding nation. The rest apparently is propaganda disguised as anachronistic concerns by some vested interests focused on the next election. 


Agenda Iran Tehran foreign trade FATF US sanctions Financial Action Task Force transactions Rules Stakeholders Propaganda argument