A group of senior Republican lawmakers in US Congress have asked the administration of President Donald Trump to add Iran back on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s blacklist and reverse one of the key agreements that paved the way for the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and major world powers.
Senator Rob Portman and Representative Ed Royce wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday, asking him to raise the issue during the Paris-based anti-money laundry and terror financing organization’s upcoming session next week in the French capital.
In making their case, Portman and Royce– chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively– referred to a recent congressional report that claimed then-President Barack Obama tried “to give Iran access to the US financial system” to facilitate the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“This upcoming FATF session is particularly important following the recent release of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report exposing new details about the previous administration’s efforts to give Iran access to the US financial system, including through consideration of a general license for the ‘conversion of two non-USD currencies through the limited use of the USD as an intermediate currency,'” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“In the push to save its deeply flawed nuclear deal, the Obama administration unwisely backed a wide range of economic relief for Iran—including through the FATF,” the lawmakers further noted. “In June 2016, the administration supported the FATF’s decision to suspend ‘counter-measures’ against Iran for one year, following Tehran’s submission of an Action Plan to the FATF to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing policies.”
Despite Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in May and his pledge to punish foreign companies that do business with Iran, the FATF is continuing to lift restrictions on Iran every six months since the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016.
In its plenary session in February, however, the anti-money laundering group gave in to US pressure and decided to maintain Iran’s status as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering.
The two lawmakers said the FATF needed to take further action against Iran because Tehran was providing financial support for Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements, Hezbollah and Hamas, which are both regarded as terror groups by the US.
According to Portman and Royce, Iran did so by designating these groups as “legitimate popular resistance against colonial domination and foreign occupation.”
“It’s time to recognize that Iran has failed to take the necessary steps—despite its pledges two years ago—to be removed from the list of FATF’s high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions,” the letter read. “The United States should now utilize its influence within the FATF to reimpose countermeasures against Iran and protect the international financial system.”
Iran’s parliament has adopted new amendments proposed by the government to the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) law as part of efforts to improve connections to the international banking and trade system.
The upcoming FATF session is expected to issue a verdict on international transactions and business relationships involving Iran.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran would not submit to the conventions that undermine the nation’s independence.
The Leader touched on global agreements purportedly aimed at fighting terrorism and money laundering, saying the signatories of those conventions have had no role in creating them.
“The global powers prepare these conventions based on their own interests and benefits and then their submissive and compliant allies enact them in their countries,” Ayatollah Khamenei told a group of lawmakers in Tehran.
Ayatollah Khamenei cautioned against signing up to “things when we don’t know their eventual consequences, while we know the potential problems, for the sake of some positive aspects.”