June 24, 2016

Iran Takes Positive Steps to Resolve Banking Issues, Clears Hurdles for Sanctions Relief

Tyler Cullis, Legal Fellow at the National Iranian American Council, released the following statement following FATF’s decision to suspend its call for Member-States and other jurisdictions to impose countermeasures against Iran:

NIAC welcomes the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recognition of positive steps taken by Iran to resolve concerns regarding its banking sector.  FATF has suspended its call for Member-States and other jurisdictions to impose counter-measures against Iran and its financial institutions, which should send a clear signal to international banks and businesses that economic opportunities with Iran can move forward. This is a critical step towards ensuring Iran receives the benefits of the lifting of sanctions promised under the nuclear accord and for FATF and its Member-States to begin to regain confidence in the integrity of Iran’s financial institutions. The success of the nuclear accord — both in constraining Iran’s nuclear program and benefiting Iran’s economy — is a positive for the American and Iranian people and the international community.

NIAC encourages Iran to continue to take steps to reform its banking laws according to global standards and for the U.S. to provide what assistance is required in that endeavor. Since the advent of the JCPOA, Iran has worked constructively with FATF to bring itself into compliance with global banking norms. Steps taken have included passage of a law to counter the financing of terrorism; amendment to its anti-money laundering (AML) laws; and its inclusion in the Eurasian Group, a FATF associate member. These steps underline the fact that Iran’s integration into the global financial system can better realize U.S. interests than Iran’s continued exclusion from it. Today’s FATF decision shows that, by working with Iran to forge a nuclear accord, the Obama administration has opened doors to further constructive U.S. and international diplomatic engagement with Iran.      

In suspending its call for counter-measures against Iran but keeping Iran’s designation as a “high-risk” jurisdiction intact, FATF has moved to ensure that Iran receives practical benefit for the actions it has thus far taken, all the while continuing to incentive Iran to take further meaningful steps to meet international banking standards. The Obama administration should now consider what steps it itself can take to recognize Iran’s progress, including the possible re-institution of the U-turn license authorization. National-level legislation should now begin to reflect Iran’s progress on reforming its financial sector.

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