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Khamenei Creates New Hurdle For Financial Safeguards Bills

Iran's legislative arbitration body, the Expediency Discernment Council meeting January 19,2019.

After an influential politician close to Iran’s Supreme Leader said February 28 that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has not expressed any view on financial legislation demanded by an international watchdog, signs emerged that the top leader has indeed created a new hurdle for the passage of two bills.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has long demanded that Iran should strengthen its legal framework to guard against money laundering and financing terrorism. The Iranian parliament passed four bills to satisfy FATF’s demands, but a constitutional watchdog blocked two of these bills, which were then referred to an arbitration body, the Expediency Discernment Council (EDC).

Both the constitutional watchdog that rejected the bills and EDC are controlled by hardliners loyal to Khamenei. The approval has dragged on and now two members of EDC say the Supreme Leader has given guidance that the approval of the remaining two bills would need two-thirds majority, according to IRNA and Tasnim news agencies.

There is no precedence of asking for two-thirds majority in such a case. Legally, such a majority is only needed for declaring the president of the country unfit to perform his duties.

The FATF had given Iran a February deadline, which passed without Iran’s compliance, but the international watchdog extended the deadline to June.

Eventually, if Iran fails to meet FATF’s requirement, it will be listed once again in the FATF’s black list, making it even harder for Iran to run its international financial affairs including repatriating its oil revenues.

In the meantime, members of the parliament and the Expediency Council who have openly supported the ratification of the bills have received death threats from unknown senders, presumably hardliners.