Thursday, June 20, 2024

FATF Bills: In the Interest or to the Detriment of Iran?

A senior Iranian economic activist believes that the approval of the bills proposed by the Iranian government to adopt the standards set by the global anti-money laundering watchdog FATF can be very useful in the current situation.

Sa’eed Leilaz says as long as the Islamic Republic’s role in the international arena is not fully defined within the existing global order, it cannot discharge its obligations to support such movements as Hamas, Hezbollah and Yemen’s Ansarullah.

“After four years, the FATF bills have not yet been approved by Iran’s Expediency Council, which ignores some of the consequences of not approving the bills, and its members do not consider the impact of such decision in their calculations.”

However, economic and political analysts not only find it necessary to pass FATF-related bills, but believe that rejecting them will impose more pressure on the economy of the country. They say non-approval of these bills will lead to negative interpretation of world public opinion about Iran.

Speaking in an interview with Khabar Online, Leilaz diacussed the consequences of not adopting the FATF bills. He said that in the first place, the issue of enacting bills known as combating money laundering should be demystified. It means, it should be clarified that whether the approval or rejecting the bills, especially under current sanctions, would have positive or negative effects.

“Despite the pressure on the economy and the Iranian people due to sanctions, the approval of these bills can have an effect on the economic situation of the country and be very useful in the current circumstances,” he noted.

He noted that such a decision will improve Iran’s situation in the international arena in terms of public diplomacy and public relations.

“We should not forget that, in the first round of sanctions, due to the failure of public diplomacy and the loss of public opinion’s support, the image of Iran in the international arena was severely damaged.”

Although at that time the amount of pressure was far lower than the present time, as we had acted in the foreign policy in such a way that a global consensus set up against our country. Therefore, we were unable to prove the innocence and rightfulness of the Islamic Republic and we could not defend the Iranian nation in the international arena, stressed Leilaz.

Since the endorsement of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, the Islamic Republic has adhered to international agreements, and even up to now, Tehran has complied with the deal.

In contrast, the United States has not fulfiled its international commitments and agreements it has signed. Currently, both the governments and the world’s public opinion know that this fact plays a very important role.

“So, if we assume that we are confronted with the equation that the signing and approval of the FTAF bills can improve Iran’s economic situation on the international arena and people’s livelihoods, this will not only not make things worse, but will also resolve them.  Secondly, in terms of public relations and international public opinion, whether regarding nations or governments, the world will guarantee the legitimacy of Iran,” reiterated Leilaz.

My recommendation is that it is certainly better to approve these bills, underlined the analyst.

“On the other hand, we will be charged if we do not approve such international bills. It may form the impression that the Islamic Republic is a supporter of money laundering in the world! As we know, none of the Islamic Republic’s international and regional aid and even no other country’s aid in the world are implemented through the normal international banking channels. That is, if a country wants to help another country or organisation, none of these helps are carried out through the international banking network. Either it would be Hezbollah, Hamas or Yemen, that of course, I know this doesn’t happen in Iran right now. Even the help that the US is now providing for its favourite groups in different countries of the world is not carried out through these channels. So we cannot say that the adoption of FATF bills can hamper our helps,” said Leilaz.

According to this political analysts, the approval of the FATF bills in the first place does not undermine Iran’s international and regional obligations, and in the second place it tactically improves Iran’s economic conditions and reduces the pressure on the people, and in the third place, it will help Iran a lot in winning the public opinion and preserving its legitimacy on the international arena. Therefore, the approval of these bills is far more to the benefit of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he underlined.

In response to a question that whether we will not be able to have economic relations with our neighbours if we do not accept these bills, he said, it is true that the Iranian economy is locked in the international arena now. However, if we do not accept and enforce these bills, the day the sanctions will be lifted, then we will see there are other barriers beyond them.

“There are very few governments in the world that have not accepted these bills, while most of the countries we know have illegally given aid to influential groups in their regions or internationally; countries such as Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia and China.”

The approval of these bills will not cause any breach in advancement of Iran’s regional and international goals, which I would oppose them if they were so.

“We must fulfil our international commitments. As these assistances will carry Iran’s interests far beyond their ideological effect. I think these helps are necessary. These policies have been one of Iran’s deterrence means in the past 40 years. I am very much in favour of these policies, but I don’t think the approval of these bills will stop Iran’s assistance,” highlighted Leilaz.

As far as I know, countries like Russia, China and even Turkey will not be able to work with Iran then.  That means, the public opinion in the world will turn against us. In this way, we will not only achieve nothing, but the pressures on us would be mounted under the current circumstances. At the moment, we are not in a position to even add a little to these pressures. If approved, not only will these pressures be reduced to some extent, but they will not harm any of the Islamic Republic’s international and regional commitments and relations, concluded this Iranian political expert.

The global anti-money-laundering watchdog has increased pressure on Iran to meet its standards while giving the country more time to do so.

The Financial Action Task Force that sets standards for anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism financing rules, extended until February a deadline for Iran to implement certain measures or face further restrictions. The earlier deadline was June 2019.

The Islamic Republic in recent years has passed legislation to address money-laundering and terrorist-financing issues, but bills ratifying treaties related to combating these problems have not come into effect, the FATF said. The watchdog added that it considers only fully enacted legislation when studying a country’s efforts.

The international body warned that if Tehran doesn’t meet its standards by February, it will put back in place further restrictions on the country that are currently suspended.

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