Iran Approves Anti-Money Laundering Bill

An Iranian arbitration body gave its approval on Saturday to an anti-money laundering bill seen as crucial to maintaining international trade and banking ties, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“The bill on amending the law to counter money laundering was approved with certain changes and will be sent to the parliament speaker to be communicated to the government,” Expediency Council member Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam told IRNA.

The Expediency Council settles disputes between parliament, which approved the bill last year, and the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, which vets all legislation and had rejected it.

Conservatives have argued that new legislation on money laundering and terrorist financing will provide Western powers with leverage over Iran’s economy and how it funds regional allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

But the government of President Hassan Rouhani says the laws are needed to meet demands set by by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors countries’ efforts to tackle financial crime.

Iran is alone with North Korea on the FATF’s blacklist—although the Paris-based organization has suspended counter-measures since June 2017 while Iran works on reforms.

The FATF will meet again in February to discuss Iran’s progress.