Blumenthal & Democratic Colleagues Call on Treasury Department to Hold Iran Accountable for Terrorist Financing

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a group of eight Democratic Senators today in calling on Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew to address a recent decision by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that could embolden Iran’s terrorist financing. FATF, the independent body responsible for setting global standards for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), recently suspended counter measures currently in place against Iran concerning its money laundering and terrorist financing activities. In today’s letter, the Senators called on the Treasury Department, as the U.S. representative at FATF, to address their concerns with FATF and prevent any further attempts to reintegrate Iran into the international banking system until the country eliminates its entrenched practice of financing terrorism.

“International financial institutions should not embolden Iran’s illegal activities that threaten the national security of the U.S. and our allies, particularly our major strategic partner Israel – the target of much of Iran’s terrorist financing in the region,” the Senators wrote. “Iran continues to support a swath of terrorist activities by funding its terrorist proxies and partners, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Assad regime. As long as Iran continues to fund these terrorist entities, the U.S. must work to strengthen enforcement actions against Iran, including strengthening international sanctions enforcement against individuals and entities involved in terrorist financing. As the U.S. Department of the Treasury represents the United States at FATF, we urge you to address these concerns with FATF and prevent any further attempts to reintegrate Iran into the international banking system, until Iran eliminates its entrenched practice of financing terrorism.”

Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Senator Blumenthal in sending the letter. Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Lew:

We urge you to address the alarming decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to institute a twelve-month suspension of counter measures against Iran concerning its money laundering and terrorist financing activities. While Iran will remain on the FATF blacklist, we are deeply troubled that FATF –  the independent body responsible for setting global standards for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) – prematurely suspended counter measures against Iran following Iran’s adoption of an action plan to address the country’s woefully inadequate AML/CFT regime. As the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran must be held accountable for its malign influence and activities.

International financial institutions should not embolden Iran’s illegal activities that threaten the national security of the U.S. and our allies, particularly our major strategic partner Israel – the target of much of Iran’s terrorist financing in the region. Iran continues to support a swath of terrorist activities by funding its terrorist proxies and partners, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Assad regime. Just last week, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed, “Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” As long as Iran continues to fund these terrorist entities, the U.S. must strengthen enforcement actions against Iran, including strengthening international sanctions enforcement against individuals and entities involved in terrorist financing.

Given Iran’s ongoing terrorist financing and money laundering activities, decisions regarding Iran’s treatment within the international banking system must be based on evidence of change, not on a mere political commitment by high level officials in Iran to implement their AML/CFT action plan. As the U.S. Department of the Treasury represents the United States at FATF, we urge you to address these concerns with FATF and prevent any further attempts to reintegrate Iran into the international banking system, until Iran eliminates its entrenched practice of financing terrorism. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you on this matter. 

Sincerely, 

###