Ecuador dismisses laundering list 'huge lie' over Iran ties

Ecuador's president dismissed a so-called money laundering list as "huge lie" over Ecuador's inclusion since it has relations with Iran.

Ecuador dismisses laundering list 'huge lie' over Iran ties

Ecuador's president on Saturday dismissed a so-called money laundering list as "huge lie" over Ecuador's inclusion since it has relations with Iran, saying Ecuador would maintain relations with whomever it wanted.

"What arrogance! And why? Because we have relations with Iran. That's it," Rafael Correa said at his weekly town hall meeting. "This is imperialism in its most base form. ... This has nothing to do with the struggle against money laundering."

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, named Ecuador this week among Iran and others as nations "failing to comply with international regulations against money laundering and financing terrorism."

"We have been blacklisted along with Iran, Ethiopia, Angola and North Korea. We are the financiers of terrorism in the world!" Correa said indignantly.

"It's a stick so you don't misbehave, naughty boy. You didn't do what I said, don't get involved with Iran. So because you went ahead, we'll put you on the blacklist, that's all."

"Put pressure instead on rich nations"

The combative and charismatic Correa, 46, has run the small South American nation since 2007.

While enjoying high popularity for his social policies, Correa said Ecuador's two dozen banks had perfectly adequate legislation to protect against laundering and terrorism financing and dismissed the report as "a huge lie."

Drawing cheers from his audience, Correa asked why nobody had mentioned Brazil, which also has growing ties with Iran and hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad late last year.

He said international authorities should put pressure instead on rich nations like the United States and Switzerland over money laundering in their financial systems.

The Ecuadorean leader was speaking in his weekly televised address, this time in the highland town of Sangolqui outside Quito. He arrived and departed in a wheelchair, waving to the crowd, after a knee operation in Cuba last week.

Ecuador's private bank association also said on Friday it thought the Iran factor was behind the nation's inclusion on the FATF list. It noted a 2009 agreement between Ecuador's Central Bank and some Iranian financial institutions.

"But you know how much money we have received from Iran up to now? Zero," said Correa, saying Ecuador would maintain relations with whomever it wanted.

In a three-hour speech punctuated by jokes and music, Correa played a clip from the U.S. ambassador in Ecuador praising the nation's record on fighting drugs.

He vowed to seek regional support against the FATF in next week's Rio Group summit in Mexico.

Under the Correa, Ecuador has strengthened diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, which has opened an embassy in Quito and is forging wider relations across Latin America.

Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Şubat 2010, 12:17
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