Iranian lawmakers on Sunday approved a measure that allows Iran to formally join the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, clearing a major hurdle to improve Iran's status with the global anti-money laundering body the Financial Action Task Force.
According to the Parliamentary news website ICANA, the measure was approved by 143 votes to 120. Five lawmakers abstained.
In June, lawmakers had refrained from approving the bill, referring to uncertainties surrounding the Iran nuclear deal in the wake of the US exit. Lawmakers wanted more assurances from Europeans that Iran will continue to benefit by staying in the nuclear deal.
The CFT bill was the last remaining legislative piece that the Majlis had to pass in order to fulfill Iran's Action Plan with the FATF. In order to become law, however, it has to be approved by the Guardian Council–a vetting body that ensures draft laws do not contradict religious laws or Iran’s Constitution.
Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in June that parliament should pass legislation to combat money laundering according to its own criteria and advised against accepting international conventions blindly. Those statements were construed by some MPs that the Leader might be opposed to the bill's passage.
But in a response to a letter by parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani which had inquired about the Leader's view on CFT bill, the Leader's office said that he is not opposed to the bill being debated in the Majlis.
Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force in the hope that it will be removed from a blacklist that makes foreign investors reluctant to deal with it.
In a statement issued in June after a week of deliberations in Paris, the organization said FATF is disappointed with Iran’s failure to implement its action plan to address its significant AML/CFT deficiencies.
“FATF urgently expects Iran to proceed swiftly on the reform path to ensure that it addresses all of the remaining items in its Action Plan … We expect Iran to enact amendments to its AML and CFT laws … in full compliance with the FATF standards by October 2018, otherwise FATF will undertake appropriate and necessary actions at that time,” it added. The body decided however to suspend its countermeasures against Iran until October.
The Iranian government has sent four pieces of legislation to the parliament, which includes amending the country's AML/CFT law in accordance with the FATF standards and joining the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo) and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
The CFT amendment has been approved by both the Majlis and the Guardian Council, and the AML and Palermo bills are only awaiting the final blessing from the Guardian Council.