Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly opposed joining a global anti-money laundering convention on Wednesday, June 20.
Referring to recent debates in country's parliament on joining the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes (UNTOC) and accepting mandated reforms, Khamenei told lawmakers Wednesday: "It is not necessary to join conventions whose depths we are unaware of."
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said the parliament should instead prepare its own bills against money laundering and terrorism, accusing the convention of merely “cooked up” by big powers “to secure their interests.”
President Hassan Rouhani’s government had introduced four bills to pave the way for Iran to join the international convention, as a way to ease financial pressures on the country.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a G7 initiative to combat money laundering and financing terrorism, has placed Iran beside North Korea for nearly two decades at the top of the list of countries with the highest economic and financial risks. This has brought tough banking restrictions on Iran, which can be eased if the country joins the UN convention and accepts other reforms demanded by FATF.
Earlier, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament had announced that the supreme leader “has no position” on the proposed bills. Deputy speaker, Ali Motahari had also said that all issues regarding the bills “have been resolved” with the office of the supreme leader.
But earlier last week the parliament suspended debate for two months out of fear that acceding to the international conventions could thwart helping Iran's allies abroad, including Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. Both are considered terrorist organizations by the United States.
Last week, several members of parliament complained that they had received threatening anonymous messages not the support the proposed legislation.
The ultra-conservative Friday Prayer leader of Mashad, ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda publicly called the supporters of the bill traitors and indirectly threatened assassination.