FINANCIAL TRIBUNE 30 MAY -A member of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture has said that anti money-laundering laws need to be pursued and implemented more aggressively because the country is committed to building closer ties with foreign banks.
Asked whether or not the inspection of bank accounts is to help prevent tax fraud and potential money-laundering lapses, Hussein Salimi, chairman of Iranian and Foreign Joint Venture Investment Association said, "It cannot be termed as a proper inspection. Ending money laundering is not something that can be achieved by checking bank accounts," ICCIMA's website quoted him as saying.
The law against money laundering has been developed in most countries and the Iranian Parliament has also passed laws to this effect, he noted.
"But because we had no banking ties to foreign banks, we have neglected this law and now that we need to reestablish international relations, we must pay more attention to effective anti-money laundering measures."
Implementing the relevant law is not done by probing bank accounts; when a deposit or withdrawal of cash is higher than the set amount within that country's AML law, banks are obliged to report it. "This amount is the equivalent of $ 5,000 in the US and 10,000 euros in Europe."
According to Salimi, directives related to the anti-money-laundering law have been issued and a special secretariat is active at the Economy Ministry to monitor the amounts of cash deposited or withdrawn lest the transactions surpass the limitations.
Implementing the law can and should curb corruption, he said. "It should be put into action to insure that the money in the market is clean". Considering that Iran wants to work with foreign banks, "it is necessary that the Ministry of Economy pursue the implementation of the AML law."
According to the IMF, Iranian authorities have made recent progress in the establishing a framework aimed at combating money laundering and financing terrorism. The country took a meaningful stride toward upgrading its banking and financial laws closer to international norms with the Guardian Council approving a long-pending bill to counter money laundering and financing terrorism in March.
On the controversial issue of plans to tax bank deposits, Salimi said taxing bank deposits would lead to the problem that there will be a run on the banks and people will put their money in non-productive sectors. This in turn will certainly "harm production and fuel inflation."
Pointing out that the people's money should be in banks be used for expanding domestic production and improving economic efficiency, Salimi said the negative feeling that accompanies the prospect of money exiting banks and not going into production sectors is more than enough reason for the Ministry of Economy and Finance to kill such plans.
An official at the Central Bank of Iran said at the weekend that it has no plans to tax bank deposits, noting that as per law such deposits are not taxable.
Responding to recent media speculation on the issue, Peyman Ghorbani, a CBI deputy said recent comments by Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia that implied people's savings "should be taxed" had been "misinterpreted by the media."