London, 5 July - International money laundering monitoring agency, the Financial Action Task Force, has avoided a decision to return Iran to its blacklist for failing to take enough action to combat money laundering.
FAFT said: “Iran’s action plan has expired with a majority of the action items remaining incomplete.”
Iran’s continued reluctance to deal with financial crimes undermines the future of the 2015 nuclear deal, between Iran and five world powers.
In May, Donald Trump pulled the US (the sixth world power) out of the 2015 deal (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA), but the European partners are trying to keep the deal alive.
The FATF statement has almost certainly killed the deal.
The JCPOA was designed to gradually bring Iran back into the global economy through the lifting of sanctions, in exchange for a reduction in Iran’s nuclear weapons development (which never happened) and many companies invested.
But Trump, seeing the flaws in the deal, has set out to destroy it since he got into office. In October, he failed to certify the deal. In January, he gave a final deadline to fix the deal. In May, he pulled out altogether and announced the reintroduction of sanctions.
Despite all the signs, Europe still seemed surprised by the US withdrawal and did not have a suitable plan in mind for the withdrawal. The European Commission has since promised to preserve the nuclear deal to protect European companies investing in Iran, which amounts to a lot of Euros.
But European companies can see the writing on the wall and many, including Total, Maersk, and Peugeot have all announced plans to end their involvement with Iran, rather than face secondary sanctions from the US.
France, Germany and the UK have even admitted, in a letter to US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that Europe is basically powerless in the face of US sanctions.
Trump may even soon threaten sanctions against European countries if they engage in trade with Iran, including buying Iranian oil, so the logical move is for the EU to join the US and withdraw from Iran.
In 2016, following the passing of the JCPOA, FAFT suspended countermeasures against Iran, but in subsequent meetings they noted that Iran still a raft of material outstanding deficiencies, including that the leadership does not believe that FAFT is important.
FAFT has given Iran until October to comply, at which point Iran will go back on the blacklist. There is no reason to believe Iran will comply.