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EghtesadOnline: A meeting of the Expediency Council on joining the UN Convention on Transnational Crime (Palermo bill) ended without conclusion on Saturday, leaving the fate of the controversial bill unknown until at least next week.

The council is the constitutional arbiter between the Majlis and the Guardian Council that endorses or rejects  legislation based on conformity with the Constitution and Islamic law. 

Palermo bill is one of the four government bills that seek to bring Iran's anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing standards into line with international norms, specifically those defined by the Financial Action Task Force. 

The parliament has approved all the measures but except for the bill that updates Iran's domestic CFT law, the Guardian Council has rejected all the rest, Financial Tribune reported.

Earlier this month the Expediency Council approved the amendment to AML law in its first session presided by the new head Sadeq Amoli Larijani, the current judiciary chief. 

An expert present at Saturday's meeting told the Financial Tribune that since the discussions and assessment by the special Palermo committee at the Council has not ended, their expert views were not yet available to the council members who comprise the heads of the three branches of the government and other members appointed by the Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. 

According to the expert, Saturday's session was marked by the same arguments and concerns about Iran's commitments and vulnerabilities in accepting the Palermo rules and "some members were not satisfied" after the explanations. 

An emergency meeting will be held on Saturday to come to a final decision by that time. 


Discomforting Charge 

Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, Tehran Friday Prayer Leader (himself a member of the Expediency Council) warned on Friday that FATF is a mechanism for intelligence domination over financial resources and the economic systems of countries. "FATF is an arm of the US Treasury Department to expand sanctions against Iran and the resistance axis," he said. 

While the more conservative members of the council oppose the FATF legislation on grounds that it further exposes Iran's financial system to US ploys in the midst of sanctions, more moderate voices say such a move is in the interest of the nation and the ruling system as it help curb Iran’s financial isolation spearheaded by the mercurial US President Donald Trump and his minions. 

Asked about the mood at Saturday's meeting and any idea about the outcome of a vote, the expert said that "members are evenly divided on the issue." 

FATF said last October that Iran has until February to complete reforms or face consequences. 

The Paris-based body said after a meeting of its members that it was disappointed that Tehran had failed to complete its action plan despite pledges to make the upgrade. It had previously set an October deadline to complete all ten reforms. 

The Tehran government has sent four pieces of legislation to parliament, which includes amending the  AML/CFT law in accordance with FATF standards and joining the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo) and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. 

After the Palermo thing is over, the fate of the most contentious of the bills – one that will enjoin Iran to the UN anti-terror finance convention – will have to be decided since a stalemate between the Majlis and the Guardian Council has already emerged.   


Iran Expediency Council Palermo Bill Transnational Crime