Iran Economy NewsThe FATF Crisis and the Incurable Pain of Iran’s...

The FATF Crisis and the Incurable Pain of Iran’s Government

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One major point of contention in the factional feuding that exists in Iran is the issue of the regime joining the international conventions related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

This dispute was reignited after Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani asked the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei for the Expediency Discernment Council to reconsider the relevant bills, as their non-approval would block trade with the international community.

Khamenei later wrote to the Expediency Council to reconsider the issue. A statement by 205 members of the parliament against the FATF also exacerbated the crisis.

Of course, a number of members of the regime’s parliament did not join this act and didn’t sign the statement. One of them said to Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the parliament speaker, in a meeting on March 2: “Of course, this is the opinion of the signatories of the statement, not the opinion of the parliament.” (ICANA, March 2)

In the field of social consequences of not joining the FATF, Rouhani warned the Expediency Discernment Council: “But if we do not join, and if these bills are not implemented, explain how much it costs anyway and who should bear this cost.” (State TV News Channel, March 3)

Read More:

Meaning of Iran’s Return to the FATF Blacklist 

Immediately after the speeches of Rouhani, Mohsen Rezaei, the secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, came to the scene and while admitting the deadlock with the promise of review next year, he nullified the dream of a deal with the US and the lifting of sanctions and said:

“One of the ministers said, approve this so that we can join the FATF, because they may lift any of those sanctions. Well, we are waiting until April. As soon as the sanctions are lifted, we will come here and discuss. For example, we agree, but this is also ambiguous.” (State TV News Channel, March 3)

Meanwhile, referring to the global isolation of the regime, the former director of the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “They have thrown the ball in the system’s court, and the more the system reacts negatively, the more the international community will turn to the United States.” (State-run daily Setareh-e-Sobh, March 2)

Government spokesman Ali Rabiee, in response to a reporter’s question regarding the referral of the previous parliament’s decision to join the FATF, told the current parliament: “Referral to parliament is no longer an issue at all.” (IRNA, March 2)

A government expert acknowledged the shaky foundations of the regime and warned against a potential uprising: “We have not done anything to maintain our social capital by being able to withstand the pressures. With these shaky foundations, we cannot go to war with the international community, so we must accept the FATF.” (State-run daily Jahan-e-Sanat, March 3)

Contrary to this warning and the desire of some of the regime’s officials to join the FATF, some showed the truth behind the regime’s hesitation to join this agreement.

In 2019, clergyman Mesbahi Moghaddam made it clear that accepting these bills would mean cutting off support for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC): “The funding of the IRGC is considered as terrorist financing by the US, so in those circumstances we must also stop supporting the IRGC.”

Ali Nikzad, a Member of Parliament and former Minister, wrote in the most explicit tweet: “If we accept the FATF, it means exposing ways to circumvent sanctions.” (State-run daily Hamshahri, March 3)

The bottlenecks of the regime are not just one or two. According to the Iran daily, March 4, if the sanctions are lifted, the regime will be in dire straits in its banking transactions not accepting the FATF:

“If all parties return to the JCPOA {2015 Iran nuclear deal}, if Iran does not accept the FATF, will not be able to work with the world banking system. Maybe even 2nd and 3rd tier European banks will not work with us. It seems that not only the top Chinese banks do not work with us today, but also the Chinese sub-banks are willing to cooperate with us at exorbitant costs.”

This is the impasse that the regime is facing. This is at a time when the regime is facing a major crisis at home over the anger of the people. A situation that is ready to explode with any spark.

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