Iran, the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism, has lied to global financial policymakers for three years about its intention to prevent its banks from laundering money and financing terror organizations. And for three years, the same policymakers at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have done nothing while Iran dragged its feet. This must change. The FATF is meeting in Orlando this week, and it must vote to blacklist Iranian banks — as it has repeatedly promised but failed to do — or risk acquiring a reputation as a toothless tiger.
When the FATF issued an Action Plan in 2016 that would put Iran in compliance with the norms and standards protecting the international financial system from unlawful activities, Tehran made a political commitment to change the way it does business. But nothing happened. For three years the regime has failed to implement the plan it agreed to and for three years it has been actively funding proxy wars, plotting terror attacks in European cities and threatening U.S. forces serving abroad.
Perhaps it’s true that Ayatollah Khamenei has decided that if Iranian banks are blacklisted that the regime will simply reactivate new iterations of the sanctions-busting schemes that helped keep money flowing during the Obama Administration. It is also possible that the regime is willing to destroy its economy for the sake of financing Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, the Houthis and of course its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
But it’s more likely that Khamenei hasn’t fully considered how his regime would stay afloat or what the impact would be on the Iranian people because he doesn’t believe that the FATF will act. He has ample evidence up to this point that the FATF is content to issue quarterly reports regretting the state of affairs and that the regime’s threats have scared Europe, which makes up half of the FATF membership, sufficiently that it is in a state of paralysis.
We have a serious problem if that’s the conclusion Iran or any other nation has reached. Consider how countries like Pakistan, which the FATF calls “strategically deficient” in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, will behave if it believes that the guardrails are an illusion. In that scenario, what do they have to lose by continuing to permit the use of its banks to finance ISIS and a half-dozen other terror organizations, or even escalating its behaviors? Just last week, The Telegraph reported that only months after inking the Iran nuclear deal, British intelligence arrested a Hezbollah operative for “stockpiling more than three tons of ammonium nitrate, a common ingredient in homemade bombs, on the outskirts of London.” Despite President Rouhani’s mirage of moderation, the threat remains real.
With a vote to blacklist Iran, the FATF can show that it means what it says and says what it means. It would seriously disrupt Tehran’s ability to move money to bad actors around the world. But if the FATF shows that it can be bullied into giving Iran more time, the regime will conclude that it can continue to act as a revolutionary power outside the bounds of acceptable behavior.
Terror leaders will breathe a sigh of relief, the IRGC will strengthen its grip on Iran’s economy, more attacks will be planned and more hostages will be taken.
It is not lost on us that the FATF is meeting here, in Florida, discussing whether to punish Iranian behavior, while the fate of at least one Floridian, Robert Levinson, remains uncertain because of the Iranian regime. He’s been gone for 12 years now. No photos or videos of him have been issued publicly since April 2011. His country and his family deserve answers. He is not forgotten.
But worst of all, Iranian leaders may conclude that if all of its activities can continue going unpunished by a respected multilateral body like the FATF, it might also conclude that it can reactivate its nuclear weapons program with nothing more than an intense round of hand-wringing in London, Paris, Brussels, and Berlin. If the FATF shows it is bluffing, the regime only has to fear repercussions from the United States. And we know, too, that Tehran is hopeful it will soon find a more regime-friendly face in the Oval Office.
If Iran’s malign behavior is not met with punishing force, it will not change. The international community must act. The FATF must make good on its threats and finally — after three years of waiting — declare that Iran is a toxic entity in the global financial system and re-impose countermeasures.
Source » orlandosentinel