Financial Watchdog Gives Iran Time to Complete Reforms

July 2, 2018

On June 29, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gave Iran additional time to implement reforms to reduce money laundering and terrorist financing risk. Tehran has until October 2018 or it could face consequences that would deter foreign investment. FATF is a Paris-based group that monitors money laundering.

Parliament has been debating passing legislation to comply with global standards. Hardliner lawmakers have raised concerns that complying with FATF standards would curtail Iran’s ability to fund groups like Lebanese Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Parliament should use its own criteria. “While some clauses of international treaties may be good, it is not at all necessary that, by referring to those clauses, we should join the conventions whose real purposes are unknown to us or which we know have problems,” he said. The following is an excerpt from the FATF statement.

 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). In order to protect the international financial system from money laundering and financing of terrorism (ML/FT) risks and to encourage greater compliance with the AML/CFT standards, the FATF identifies jurisdictions that have strategic deficiencies and works with them to address those deficiencies that pose a risk to the international financial system.

Iran

In June 2016, the FATF welcomed Iran’s high-level political commitment to address its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies, and its decision to seek technical assistance in the implementation of the Action Plan. Given that Iran provided that political commitment and the relevant steps it has taken, the FATF decided in February 2018 to continue the suspension of counter-measures.

Since November 2017, Iran has established a cash declaration regime and introduced draft amendments to its AML and CFT laws. However, Iran’s action plan has expired with a majority of the action items remaining incomplete. Iran should fully address its remaining action items, including by: (1) adequately criminalising terrorist financing, including by removing the exemption for designated groups “attempting to end foreign occupation, colonialism and racism”; (2) identifying and freezing terrorist assets in line with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions; (3) ensuring an adequate and enforceable customer due diligence regime; (4) ensuring the full independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit and requiring the submission of STRs for attempted transactions; (5) demonstrating how authorities are identifying and sanctioning unlicensed money/value transfer service providers; (6) ratifying and implementing the Palermo and TF Conventions and clarifying the capability to provide mutual legal assistance; (7) ensuring that financial institutions verify that wire transfers contain complete originator and beneficiary information; (8) establishing a broader range of penalties for violations of the ML offense; and (9) ensuring adequate legislation and procedures to provide for confiscation of property of corresponding value.

The FATF is disappointed with Iran’s failure to implement its action plan to address its significant AML/CFT deficiencies. Given the Iranian government’s continued efforts to finalize and pass amendments to its AML and CFT laws, the FATF decided at its meeting this week to continue the suspension of counter-measures. The FATF urgently expects Iran to proceed swiftly in the reform path to ensure that it addresses all of the remaining items in its Action Plan by completing and implementing the necessary AML/CFT reforms, in particular enacting the necessary legislation. We expect Iran to enact amendments to its AML and CFT laws and ratify the Palermo and TF Conventions in full compliance with the FATF Standards by October 2018, otherwise, the FATF will decide upon appropriate and necessary actions at that time.

Iran will remain on the FATF Public Statement until the full Action Plan has been completed. Until Iran implements the measures required to address the deficiencies identified in the Action Plan, the FATF will remain concerned with the terrorist financing risk emanating from Iran and the threat this poses to the international financial system. The FATF, therefore, calls on its members and urges all jurisdictions to continue to advise their financial institutions to apply enhanced due diligence to business relationships and transactions with natural and legal persons from Iran, consistent with FATF Recommendation 19.