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EghtesadOnline: The Expediency Council, the top legislation vetting body, in a statement confirmed that the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has approved a government request to extend the deadline for discussions on the two remaining bills mandated by the global anti-money laundering body Financial Action Task Force.

In the statement the EC public relations office put an end to ambiguities over the key issue that were made public last week but was denied by some EC members. 

The EC said the Leader had partially approved the government request that also called on the EC members to vote in favor of the remaining FATF bills. 

"In response to two requests, the Leader merely agreed to extend the deadline for reviewing the issue", the statement seen on the EC website said. 

Last February the global anti-money laundering watchdog lifted the suspension of counter-measures on Iran and called on its members and all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures against the country.

In recent weeks, the government has strived to have the remaining bills endorsed by the EC, spurred by cautious optimism that the US economic siege may end with change in the White House. US president-elect Joe Biden has pledged to return to the historic nuclear deal abandoned by the belligerent Donald Trump in May 2018.  

Senior government officials have often argued that efforts to ease sanctions would be futile unless tough financial barriers imposed as a result of an FATF blacklist are removed. 

The Governor of Central Bank of Iran Abdolnasser Hemmati said Friday absence of an unambiguous decision with the regard to the remaining bills could pose a serious challenge to Iran's international banking ties even if the economic sanctions are lifted. 

"We should note that even in the absence of sanctions the unclear fate of the FAFT bills is an obstacle to the banking sector and its ties to international banking," Hemmati wrote on his Instagram account on Friday.

Abdolreza Faraji Rad, a former diplomat, echoed the same view, saying that the government decision to once again review the FATF bills is a sign that "new conditions have emerged and hopes for improving financial relations with the world have increased.” 

FATF has asked Iran to pass four bills as part of the “Action Plan” to get out of its blacklist. Last year the Rouhani administration was able to approve and enact amendments to counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering rules.   

But the government failed to get approval from the main legislative body for the two remaining bills, namely Palermo (convention against transnational organized crime) and terrorist financing conventions (CFT), despite the fact that the key bills were passed by the government and parliament. 

The two remaining bills were not approved by the Guardian Council - a watchdog that ensures laws are in line with the Islamic Republic Constitution and Sharia - and were sent to the EC for a final decision.  EC is a constitutional arbiter between the Majlis and the Guardian Council.  

At its latest plenary session in October the FATF said Iran along with North Korea remains on the FATF’s list of “high-risk jurisdictions”.

 

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei FATF anti-money laundering