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Senior Cleric: FATF Demands Not in Iran’s Interests

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers leader Hojjatoleslam Kazzem Seddiqi warned that meeting the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will have negative consequences for Iran, and said that enacting the Palermo and CFT would mean surrendering to enemies.

Addressing a large and fervent congregation of the people in Tehran on Friday, Hojjatoleslam Seddiqi said, “I warn the Iranian officials against the negative consequences of endorsement and implementation of the FATF recommendations.”

He reiterated that endorsing the FATF-related bills by Iran has nothing to do with development of relations with other countries.

The senior cleric warned that the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran have always been trying to find a way to dominate the Iranian nation and prevent their independence and development.

“FATF is one of the tools of the enemies’ conspiracies, and they put a great emphasis on it,” he said.

FATF has required Iran to implement a number of moves that include endorsement of several conventions.

Palermo bill is one of the four government bills seeking to bring Iran’s anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing standards into line with those defined by the FATF.

The parliament has approved all the measures but except for the bill that updates Iran’s domestic law on countering financing of terrorism. All the rest have been rejected by the Guardian Council – a watchdog that ensures laws are in line with the Constitution and Sharia.

The bills on Iran’s accession to the Palermo Convention and the convention against the funding of terrorism (CFT) were rejected by the Guardian Council in early November due to some flaws that violated the country’s Constitution. The bills were then amended by the Iranian Parliament, waiting for the next steps in the Guardian Council.

To fulfill FATF requirements, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has proposed four bills to the parliament for approval, two of which are still undecided, including the Palermo Convention. They have been referred to the Expediency Council for final approval.

Yet, Iran has recently approved a national anti-money laundering (AML), which was a domestically-developed bill.

In its October meeting, the FATF decided to extend the deadline for Iran until February to complete reforms under the specified action plan that includes a list of 9 major moves, including the opening of its financial transactions data bank to the FATF that is headed by the US Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary heading the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Marshall Billingslea.

The Political-Defense-Security and Legal-Judicial Commissions of the EC declared in January that endorsement of the Palermo bill would run against the country’s interests.

In relevant remarks on January 26, Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Mohsen Rezayee announced that the EC’s specialized commissions have rejected the country’s endorsement of the Palermo bill, adding that the final decision will be made in the Council’s next meeting.

Speaking to reporters after an Expediency Council meeting on Palermo convention here in Tehran, Rezayee said that the EC’s specialized commissions have concluded that harms and losses of Iran’s endorsement of the convention would overpass its merits.

“It is a reality but the EC will have the final decision in this regard,” he added.

Asked if Iran is entitled to set preconditions to join Palermo and the blur conditions surrounding this issue, Rezayee said, “Of course, there are much more ambiguities too and it was decided that the pros and cons study them in the next meeting.”

It was the second week in a row that the EC deferred the decision on the bill for further studies.

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