Iran's Khamenei advises parliament to pass own anti-money-laundering law

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in Tehran June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz//File Photo/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader said on Wednesday that parliament should pass legislation to combat money laundering according to its own criteria in a speech that could make it harder for the country to attract foreign investment.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s advice makes it less likely that parliament would use the global Financial Action Task Force’s criteria as the basis for its bill. Foreign businesses say a bill that includes FATF guidelines is essential if they are to increase investment.

“Some of these treaties have useful parts, it’s not a problem,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech to parliament, according to a transcript published on his official website.

“The solution for this issue is that the parliament should make up its own law. For example, a law for fighting money laundering. There is no need for us to accept things that we don’t know where they will end up.”

Iran has been attempting to implement standards set by FATF, a global group of government anti-money-laundering agencies, in the hope that it will be removed from a blacklist that makes some foreign investors reluctant to deal with the country.

The Islamic Republic has tried to attract foreign investors after completing a landmark 2015 agreement with the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain under which a number of sanctions were lifted in exchange for Iran agreeing to curbs on its nuclear program.

U.S. President Donald Trump reduced the chances of foreign companies investing in Iran after withdrawing from the deal last month and pushing for the implementation of new sanctions.

Hardliners in Iran’s parliament have opposed passing legislation to facilitate compliance with FATF standards, arguing that it could hamper Iranian financial support for regional allies like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which the United States has classified as a terrorist organization.

Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg