November 15, 2018

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Hard-liners call for Zarif's head over money laundering comment (Al-Monitor Staff November 14, 2018)

Iran's foreign minister has entered another tough battlefront at home, riling up relentless criticism from the country's conservative camp after speaking up against "widespread money laundering" in the Islamic Republic.

"After all, money laundering is a reality in our country," Zarif said in a Nov. 10 interview with Khabar Online, a moderate news agency. The foreign minister refused to name any individuals or institutions involved in the practice, but estimated the money involved as billions of dollars.

Zarif's comments were apparently meant to address criticism of a controversial bill that has been widening the rift between Iran's Reformists and hard-liners. Iran's parliament approved a proposed law to join the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism Oct. 7 as a precondition for Iran to be fully removed from the blacklist of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The government of President Hassan Rouhani has been pushing the measure to help fight the impact of sanctions reimposed by the United States after the latter withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The ratification of the FATF-related bills would also the Iranian government attain greater financial transparency and improve access to the international banking system. However, the country's hard-liners oppose the measure, considering the four bills -- including the one on joining the terror financing convention -- a concession to the West.

"Some of those concerns are rooted in honesty. ... But others are voicing those concerns for their own financial interests," Zarif said, adding that there were many who benefited from money laundering -- a revelation that was more than enough reason for his opponents to relaunch their attacks on the popular foreign minister.

Posted by at November 15, 2018 12:56 AM

  

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