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Iran anti-money laundering law faces challenge as deadline looms

An exchange office is seen as toman devaluated to its lowest value against the US dollar [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]
An exchange office is seen as toman devaluated to its lowest value against the US dollar [Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency]

A top Iranian constitutional body has demanded changes to anti-money laundering measures passed by parliament, state-run media said on Saturday, as Tehran nears a deadline to pass legislation to help it attract investment while facing U.S sanctions.

Iran has been trying to implement standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental organisation which underpins regimes combatting money laundering and terrorist financing. It hopes it will be removed from a blacklist that makes some foreign investors reluctant to deal with it.

In June, FATF said Iran had until October to complete the reforms or face consequences that could further deter investors from the country, which has already been hit by the return of US sanctions.

Hardliners in parliament have opposed legislation aimed at moving towards compliance with FATF standards, arguing it could hamper Iranian financial support for allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organisation.

Read: Key Iran council backs anti-money laundering move

The Guardian Council, which vets legislation passed by parliament for compliance with the constitution, objected to four items in the anti-money laundering amendments and returned the measure to parliament, spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan as saying.

Kadkhodaei did not give details of the four items, according to Mizan.

Earlier this month, the Guardian Council approved legal amendments on combating the funding of terrorism.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in June parliament should pass legislation to combat money laundering according to its own criteria.

Foreign businesses say legislation that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment.

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