A key official in Iran has said that meeting the requirement of the Palermo Convention against transnational crimes and the convention against funding terrorism (CFT) will allow foreign powers to monitor the activities of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) under the pretext of combating money laundering.
"They can find out what we are doing, who we are working with and how we do it if we join these conventions. Everything related to the IRGC will be a subject of anti-money laundering [inspections] which is not good," Expediency Council member Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam told Mehr News Agency on 18 November.
Mesbahi Moghaddam said there is no guarantee that the ratification of the bills that allow Iran to join the conventions will prevent the Islamic Republic from being blacklisted by Financial Action Task Force (FATF). "[FATF] decisions are made by unanimous vote; we will not be placed on the blacklist if there is not a unanimous vote. Those who say we will be blacklisted if we do not ratify [these bills] are not paying attention to this [decision-making] mechanism," he said and added that some of the 35 FATF member countries have interests in relations with the Islamic Republic and "will definitely not vote against Iran."
The Iranian Parliament has passed four bills against money laundering as required by the international dirty money watchdog but the two bills that allow Iran to join the Palermo and CFT conventions were rejected by the Guardian Council. These bills were referred to the Expediency Council for arbitration but the Council has delayed reviewing them several times (Radiofarda) despite pressure from FATF.
FATF put Iran under probation in 2016 and has four times extended its deadline to Iran to finalize the legislation required for joining its conventions. In October FATF gave the Islamic Republic a final warning and threatened to put Iran back on its blacklist if it failed to comply with these conventions before February 2020.
Iran's compliance with the FATF rules is crucial for international banking, trade and attracting foreign investments. Pro-administration reformists and moderates claim that by blocking the ratification of the bills against money laundering hardliners are sabotaging the efforts of the Rouhani administration to resolve the many problems that the Iranian economy is facing under the U.S. sanctions.