Iran Slams Plans to Add It to Money Laundering Blacklist

Created in 1989 in Paris on the initiative of the Western industrial powers, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) includes the European Union, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, China, Russia, and nearly three dozen other countries and entities, with its formal goal being to fight terror financing and money laundering.

FATF has added Iran to its blacklist over the country’s alleged failure to comply with anti-terror financing norms, the agency said Friday.

“In June 2016, Iran committed to address its strategic deficiencies. Iran’s action plan expired in January 2018. In February 2020, the FATF noted Iran has not completed the action plan…Given Iran’s failure to enact the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards, the FATF fully lifts the suspension of countermeasures and calls on its members and urges all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures, in line with the recommendation,” the watchdog said in a statement.Iran will now be placed on FATF’s ‘High Risk Jurisdictions Subject’ list together with North Korea until it meets the commitments of the action plan.

Israeli delegation chief Shlomit Wagman-Ratner, who chaired the organization’s operative working group during this week’s meetings, praised the organization’s “important and courageous decision” to blacklist Iran, citing the country’s alleged failure to “meet the required conditions.”

Earlier Friday, an unnamed European official told Reuters that the US was “pushing for the toughest position” on Iran, “while other countries like China and Russia preferred something more flexible.” European countries were “looking for something in between,” the official said.

Earlier this week, commenting on the possibility of Iran being blacklisted, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “the vast majority” of nations had favoured extending Iran’s FATF action plan deadline, apart from “three countries” including “the United States, Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime,” whom Zarif accused of being terror sponsors.

Iran has been blacklisted before, and has yet to join FATF, undertaking an ‘action plan’ to meet the watchdog’s requirements in 2016 after the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. The action plan expired in early 2018. The country was until February 2020 to implement a series of measures set out by the watchdog. Iran’s parliament passed the necessary legal measures in October 2019, but two of the packages of reforms have yet to be implemented amid concerns that they could limit Iran’s freedom to engage in economic ties with other countries amid US sanctions pressure.

Earlier, Iranian observers warned that non-compliance with the FATF’s demands could mean the closure of all Iranian bank accounts worldwide, including those of individuals and embassies.

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