Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, warned Iranian authorities that not joining the Financial Action Task Force, the international coalition that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, would “harm the national interests of the country” on the long run, CNBC reported.
Zarif’s request came just days after Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the body that blocks legislation, issued an unprecedented statement saying Iran’s membership in FATF would be a “strategic mistake”.
Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, the committee that resolves differences between the parliament and the Guardian Council, said that majority of the council stood against joining FATF.
FATF has given Iran until June to join or face being added to a financial blacklist, a move that could further cripple its economy by affecting trade or financial dealings with the EU and other FATF member states. The move could also jeopardize INSTEX, the new special purpose vehicle created by France, Germany and the U.K. to facilitate humanitarian trade. Iran was taken off the blacklist in 2016, CNBC added.
Efforts to join FATF began in November 2017 when President Hassan Rouhani pushed for the ratification of two of four FATF requirements. Despite early ratification, the bill took two years to get final approval by the Expediency Council and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, passing in January 2019.
Passing the FATF requirements is part of Rouhani’s vow to fight corruption, curb military control of the economy and stabilize the financial system, CNBC noted.
Meanwhile, Zarif also emphasized that Tehran will overcome “inhumane and illegal” U.S. sanctions in the new Iranian year by expanding ties with nations equally tired of “bullying” by the United States, Reuters/Euronews reported.
“We rely solely on our own people to overcome any challenges, but we also welcome constructive engagement, including with the expanding array of nations who are equally sick and tired of the bullying of the US,” Zarif stated.