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Iran's Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terror Financing Bills In Limbo Until April

Iran's Expediency Discernment Council meeting, March 2. 2019.

Iran’s arbitration body in its meeting on March 2 did not make a decision about anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing bills approved by parliament but rejected by the Guardian Council.

This was the council's last meeting until after the Iranian New Year on March 21. Its next meeting will not be held before April.

This was the fourth time the Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) has discussed the bills but failed either to accept or reject them. Both the Guardian Council which rejected the bills and the EDC are stacked by conservatives loyal to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The legislation has long been demanded by an international watchdog, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has asked Iran to strengthen its legal framework to guard against money laundering and financing terrorism. If Iran fails to comply with FATF demands, the watchdog can blacklist the country, severely restricting its ability to have banking relations with the rest of the world.

The secretary of the EDC, Mohsen Rezaei announced that there are many reasons for the delay in making a decision but stressed “FATF’s behavior” and “the behavior of Europeans” will impact the final decision of the council. He did not clarify what he meant by FATF’s behavior. Last month the international body extended a February deadline it had given Iran to June.

On March 1, two EDC members told the media that Khamenei has told them approval of the two bills must have a two-thirds majority; a condition that has no precedence in deciding such matters.

Both President Hassan Rouhani and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani were absent from the EDC meeting.