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Rouhani Calls On Iranian Banks To Comply With International Regulations

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (C) alongside with his oil minister Bijan Zangeneh (R) and the governor of Iran's Central Bank Valiollah Seif in a meeting in the CBI headquarter in Tehran, on Sunday March 04, 2018.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has called on Iranian banks to comply with international regulations in order to evade being blacklisted.

In an apparent reference to the requirements of FATF and UNTOC, he advised the banks “abiding by these regulations, you can distance yourself from the black list.”

Rouhani called on Iranian banks in a speech on March 4 to be “modern” and “Islamic” and to “comply with international banking regulations”.

Rouhani was referring to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) black list, a G-7 initiative to combat money laundering and financial terrorism, and the regulations suggested by the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

Iranian hardliners strongly oppose Iran’s joining the FATF and UNTOC describing the measure as “treason.” Iran had signed the UNTOC in 2000, but the country’s parliament ratified it only on January 24, 2018, with 132 votes in favor, eighty against, and ten abstentions.

The ratification was tied to a January 31 deadline set for Tehran by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Iran is still continuing talks with FATF in order to be excluded from its black list. FATF places Iran beside North Korea at the top of the list of countries with the highest economic and financial risks.

At the time, the move sparked severe criticism by some conservative politicians. Hosseinali Haji Deligani, an ultra-conservative member of the parliament described the vote as “treason”, and his colleague Mojtaba Zon-Nour said that the United States could use the convention against Hezbollah since it accuses the group of being involved in drug trafficking.

Mohammad Nabi Habibi, the secretary of a conservative grpoup, “Islamic Coalition Party” called the parliament’s vote equal to “disarming” the Islamic Revolutionary Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah.

Attack on conservative opponents

Rouhani characterized opposition to his administration as “unwise” and “against national interests.”

Rouhani’s hardline political opponents have strongly criticized his administration’s support for joining international conventions against money laundering and financial terrorism, most recently when parliament voted on January 31 to join UNTOC.

Speaking at a Central Bank general assembly in Tehran, Rouhani said that opposition to his administration is his political rivals’ reaction to his achievement in lowering inflation rate to a single digit figure.

He said that his political rivals are trying to undermine this achievement.

“Some find it hard to accept the single digit inflation rate,” Rouhani said, adding that opposition to his administration marks the critics’ “lack of wisdom.”

Rouhani further charged, “Challenging the administration is tantamount to undermining national interests and attacking the nation’s hope and confidence.”

Rouhani previously branded his administration’s opponents as “nouveau riche, illiterate, politically coward, faithless, people without identity, stone-age people, retarded, idle elements, jealous and intellectually poor.”

His political rivals harshly criticized him for using these words and reminded him that he had previously criticized “revolutionaries” for using harsh rhetoric.

Elsewhere in his speech at the Central Bank Rouhani Rouhani expressed support for the CBI and criticized others who had been “ungrateful” to bank governors during the past two years.

He praised Iranian banks for helping to bring about economic growth and boosting employment rate, “although there are shortcomings,” in the banks he said.

Rouhani further criticized the financial institutions that failed to deliver their promises to their customers, creating widespread dissatisfaction that has led to numerous protest gathering during the past year.

Rouhani said that the three powers of the government “have solved these institutions’ problems.”

This comes while videos released on social media show protesters gathered in front of parliament on Saturday March 3 chanting slogans against Rouhani and other officials and demanding repayment of their savings.