Money laundering body keeps Iran blacklisted, freezes some steps

Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:15am EDT
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - An international group that monitors money laundering worldwide decided on Friday to keep Iran on its blacklist of high-risk countries but welcomed Iranian promises to improve and called for a one-year suspension of some restrictions on Tehran.

At a meeting of its 37 members in South Korea, the Financial Action Task Force also moved to keep North Korea on its blacklist and urged countries to be on guard against Pyongyang's attempts to bypass sanctions to finance illicit weapons programs.

"The FATF welcomes Iran's adoption of, and high-level political commitment to, an Action Plan to address its strategic (anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing) deficiencies," the task force said in a statement.

"The FATF therefore has suspended counter-measures for 12 months in order to monitor Iran's progress in implementing the Action Plan."

The statement said that if Iran fails to improve its record on money laundering and financing terrorism as promised, the FATF's call for vigorous counter-measures will be reinstated. If there is improvement, the task force will consider further positive steps.

The decision confirmed a Reuters story from earlier this week.

Iran has lobbied to get off the blacklist and is likely to treat the FATF announcement as a major victory. Tehran has complained it is not getting economic benefits promised it during last year's negotiations on a nuclear deal with six major powers.

As a result of that agreement, many international sanctions against Iran were lifted. The United States, however, still has sanctions in place that prohibit trade with Iran in dollars and Iranian access to New York's financial system. Banks remain wary of getting into trouble with U.S. authorities.   Continued...

Iranian shareholders look at electronic display boards in Tehran's Stock Exchange, Iran, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA