Can Rouhani reel in the IRGC’s Financial Empire?

By Bijan Khajehpour, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

For months, Iran’s hardliners have used the term “JCPOA” — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — to undermine the credibility of President Hassan Rouhani’s administration. Over the past couple of weeks, they have adopted the term “FATF” — the Financial Action Task Force — which according to the Iranian hardliners represents a “capitulation” of Iranian interests to Western powers.

As with the JCPOA, chances are that opposition to the implementation of FATF rules in Iran is based on politics rather than facts. Rouhani’s opponents realize that non-compliance with the FATF will limit the economic benefits of the JCPOA and hence undermine the president’s credibility in the eyes of the general public and the business community.

The FATF is “an inter-governmental body established in 1989 … to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.” Of note, the process for Iran becoming a member was initiated during the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13).

In May 2010, the government presented the Bill to Fight Terrorism Financing, and the parliament approved it the following month. The legislation then entered the bureaucracy of the Guardian Council, which subsequently sent it to the judiciary for amendments, as it also entailed actions and legal changes in the judicial system.

After years of making its way through various bureaucracies, the amended bill was passed by parliament on Feb. 3 of this year. The Guardian Council confirmed the statute March 5. The law obliges the government to “exchange data and information according to its international commitments” in fulfilling the objectives of this law.

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