Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, a former defence minister and member of the Khamenei’s advisory council (EDC), said on January 28 that FATF was not a financial regulatory body but a security apparatus, so joining it is against Iran’s interests.
Vahidi, whose birth name is Shah Cheraghi, said: “FATF is an intelligence system, independent of the UN. Through its formation, [the West] wants to undermine our scientific nuclear power. When the enemy realized it couldn’t hamper Iran’s peaceful nuclear program by UN resolutions, it tried to include nuclear issues in the FATF to prevent our country’s progress.”
Vahidi joined the IRGC, the military force tasked with protecting the revolution, shortly after the mullahs stole power in 1979 and soon rose through the ranks to the position of deputy intelligence commander. In fact, he was the only IRGC member present during the secret 1986 meeting between the Regime and the White House regarding selling weapons to Iran, despite a US arms embargo, in the hopes of freeing seven US hostages being held in Lebanon.
The former chief commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations unit, is famed for his anti-West positions, so it is not a surprise that he, like others in Khamenei’s faction including Friday prayer leaders and IRGC commanders, is opposed to Iran joining FATF or taking any kind of action against money laundering and terrorist financing.
They argue that it threatens Iran’s security, but the real fear is that increased financial transparency would prevent Iran from funding terrorist cells like the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas or from laundering money in order to increase the wealth.
It’s worth noting that Khamenei has dismissed President Hassan Rouhani’s proposals to join the FATF as something “cooked up” by “foreign enemies” of the Regime.
Also on January 28, one member of the EDC and close ally of Rouhani told Iranian media that he received a death threat last Saturday after the council discussed the FATF bill.
FATF has given Iran until February to complete reforms to “bring it into line with global norms or face consequences” that could further jeopardise the Iranian economy.
Iran and North Korea are the only countries that have not yet joined the FATF.