An Iranian arbitration body has amended and given its approval to an anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) bill that Iran’s parliament wanted to introduce last year to support the country’s efforts to meet the demands of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and maintain international trade and banking ties.

The Expediency Council has now sent the bill on amending the law to counter money laundering to parliament’s speaker who is expected to recommend that the government should adopt the bill.

Bill rejected

The bill was approved by parliament last year but was subsequently rejected by Iran’s unelected Guardian Council, which must review and approve any bill before it becomes law.

The Expediency Council, which settles disputes between parliament and the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, was then called upon to decide on how the bill should be progressed.

Western interference

The Guardian Council maintained that the new AML/CFT legislation would provide western powers with leverage over Iran’s economy and how it funds regional allies such as Hezbollah, the Shi’a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon that is designated a terrorist group by the US and other world powers.

But the government said the bill is needed to meet the demands of FATF, the international watchdog that monitors countries’ efforts to tackle financial crime.

FATF blacklist

Iran is currently one of two countries on FATF’s blacklist alongside North Korea, although the watchdog has suspended counter-measures against Iran since June 2017 while the country works on reforms.

The AML/CFT bill is one of four bills required by FATF. One covering processes for monitoring and preventing terrorist financing was signed into law last year.

But two others authorising Iran to join UN conventions against terrorist-financing and organised crime have been approved by parliament but are still being delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council.

International relations

The government is hoping to salvage banking and trade ties after the US backed out of the 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran and reimposed tough unilateral sanctions.

The other parties to the deal, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, are keen to maintain trading links with Iran but want to see it meet FATF requirements.