Risking confrontation within Iran’s regime, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (pictured) has accused other officials of money laundering.
Zarif said on Sunday that those who makes billions of dollars from the laundering are spending millions to prevent the passage of legislation for financial transparency: “We cannot challenge the scenes set by these wealthy and mighty state-organs,”
The Foreign Minister did not name the individuals or agencies involved against the Rouhani Government’s Palermo Bills. However, the Guardian Council — whose 12 members are appointed by the Supreme Leader and the judiciary — has blocked a Parliamentary bill for Iran’s accession to the Financial Action Task Force, the international body trying to halt finance of terrorism.
The European Union has indicated that Iran’s membership of the FATF is essential if European countries are to help Iran with trade and investment links, amid comprehensive US sanctions. The FATF has given Tehran until February to endorse an international convention against terrorist finance, or risk addition to a blacklist of countries refusing to cooperate.
But Iran’s hardliners oppose the accession because it could inhibit Tehran’s support of factions such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas.
The head of judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, hit back at Zarif, saying the comments are a “stab right into the heart” of the regime. “If there is huge money laundering in the country, why did you not report it to the judiciary?” Larijani challenged.
He implicitly accused Zarif of assisting the Trump Administration’s sanctions, “The enemy’s best tool is economic pressure. In such situation officials are expected not to make double-edged comments that could be misused by the enemy.”
One MP said proceedings for impeachment have begun, as Zarif was summoned by Parliament’s National Security Commission for an explanation.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi denied on Monday evening that Zarif had resigned because of the criticism:
I reject this rumor. These are deliberately manufactured, processed and spread by certain circles. Mr. Zarif is energetically busy with his work. He was in Parliament yesterday and today he is hosting a foreign delegation.