Financial Watchdog Worries Iranian Hard-liners

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

The Iranian government’s efforts to get off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist is spurring attacks against President Hassan Rouhani by primarily conservative forces.

Given the agreement to adhere to FATF guidelines, critics say many institutions such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and universities such as Sharif University of Technology will effectively be sanctioned by Iranian banks.

They also point out that Iran will have to hand over sensitive banking information about Iranian institutions and individuals to FATF, thus putting the country’s security at risk. These attacks were intensified following a Sept. 2 report in hard-line Kayhan daily that featured images of two letters showing that Iranian banks had refused to provide banking services to IRGC-linked organizations.

FATF is an intergovernmental body that prepares advisory reports on the investment risks in different countries. Its reports, which focus on financial transparency, are used by international investors. In 2009, the organization for the first time put Iran on its blacklist alongside countries such as Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It has urged Iran to take necessary actions to ensure cooperation between Iranian banks and their international counterparts.

In Iran, some now argue that adherence to FATF guidelines must be ratified by the Iranian parliament, but the Rouhani administration insists that there is no agreement to be ratified, thus voiding the need for parliamentary approval.

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