EghtesadOnline: With the final call by the global anti-money laundering watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, on Iran coming to a head, a group of MPs are preparing a letter to the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, to convey their concerns about the consequences of non-compliance with FATF standards.
The letter will outline the view of economic experts and stakeholders, said Shabeddin Bimeqdar, a lawmaker behind the rare correspondence. He said he is drafting the letter on behalf of a group of his colleagues, ISNA reported.
Echoing the view of majority of business owners and market pundits, Bimeqdar said blacklisting by FATF means “the country will be locked up in its entirety and our bank offices overseas will be boycotted. Moreover, bank accounts of Iranians working [or studying] overseas will be invalidated.”
Non-compliance with FATF will also push up currency rates, which in turn, will affect the prices of almost all goods and services, Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
The Paris-based FATF has for years has called on Iran to adopt anti-money laundering and anti-corruption transparency laws, and reform its banking sector to be allowed full access to the international banking system.
FATF issued a four-month deadline in mid-October, giving Tehran a last and final chance to comply with international anti-money laundering rules by February 2020. The failure to uphold the FATF warning will put Iran on the international black list.
Neighboring states and countries with which Iran has friendly relations have apparently said they too would not be able to work with Iranian banks unless Tehran joins the FATF.
Warning From Trade Partners
Citing businesses from the southern regions, which have close trade ties to the Persian Gulf Arab countries, Bimeqdar said they have received warnings from banks in Dubai, Kuwait and Oman, asking them to close their accounts.
“I have heard that Russia’s Foreign Ministry has told our foreign ministry that without joining FATF, they would cut ties with Iran,” the MP was quoted as saying.
Iran has already enacted amendments to counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering acts. Bills to ratify the Palermo (convention against transnational organized crime) and terrorist financing conventions have been passed by the Majlis but not yet endorsed by higher legislative bodies.
Two remaining bills failed to win approval of the Guardian Council - a watchdog that ensures laws are in line with the Constitution and Sharia - and was sent to the Expediency Council- constitutional arbiter between the Majlis and the Guardians – for the final decision.
Opponents argue that joining the FATF could expose Iran’s key economic and financial data to hostile powers like the United States. Advocates dismiss this concern as unwanted and unhelpful.
Bimeqdar called on the Expediency Council to uphold the interest of the nation in their decision regarding the membership in the FATF.
“The whole world complies with FATF,” the lawmaker from East Azarbaijan said, arguing that if the arguments of opponents were cogent, why big economies, like China and Japan, should not have the same reservations.
In recent months both government and independent experts have warned policymakers that Tehran can afford to not join the FATF at its own peril.
Prominent members of the academia teaching economics have often told policymakers and those willing to listen that walking away from the global taskforce is a luxury the government can ill afford, especially under the present dire economic conditions and the mounting US hostility.
Similarly, advocates of economic transparency and the fight against corruption have urged the powers that be to expand their horizons when it comes to dealing with international conventions and institutions in the best interest of the nation.