The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) countries in a Summit held in Paris. The initial motive of FATF was to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.In October 2001, the FATF expanded its wings to incorporate efforts to combat terror financing, money laundering, and human trafficking.In other words Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society. As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
With more than 200 countries and jurisdictions committed to implementing them. The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a co-ordinated global response to prevent organised crime, corruption and terrorism. They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes. The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.
The FATF reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and continuously strengthens its standards to address new risks, such as the regulation of virtual assets, which have spread as cryptocurrencies gain popularity. The FATF monitors countries to ensure they implement the FATF Standards fully and effectively, and holds countries to account that do not comply.
The objectives of the FATF are:
FATF set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures to combat terror financing, money laundering, human trafficking and other related threats to the integrity of the International Financial System.
It is worth to mention that the estimated proceeds from human trafficking have increased from USD 32 billion in 2011 to USD 150 billion in 2018.
In addition to the regulation of laundering and terrorist financing techniques; the FATF monitors the progress of the member countries on matters related to reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures.
FATF Members Observers and Regional organisations;
There are currently 38 members of the FATF; 36 jurisdictions and 2 regional organisations i.e. the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
These 37 Members are at the core of global efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. There are also 31 international and regional organisations which are Associate Members or Observers of the FATF and participate in its work.
FATF Observers are;
1. Saudi Arabia
What is the Grey List and Black List of the Financial Action Task Force?
FATF has 2 types of lists;
1. Black List
2. Grey List
1. Meaning of Black List: Only those countries are included in this list that FATF considers as uncooperative tax havens for terror funding. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs). In other words; countries that are supporting terror funding and money laundering activities are placed in the Blacklist.
The FATF blacklist or OECD blacklist has been issued by the Financial Action Task Force since 2000 and lists countries which it judges to be non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and terror funding.
2. Meaning of Grey List: Those countries which are not considered as the safe heaven for supporting terror funding and money laundering; included in this list. The inclusion in this list is not as severe as blacklisted.
Now Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come in Black list (Just like a yellow card in a football match). If a country is unable to curb mushrooming of terror funding and money laundering; it is shifted from grey list to black list by the FATF.
FATF @ present day(COVID-19):
The members of the FATF, both domestically and multilaterally, are applying every available resource to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As the global standard‑setter for combating money laundering (ML) and the financing of terrorism (TF) and proliferation, the FATF encourages governments to work with financial institutions and other businesses to use the flexibility built into the FATF’s risk-based approach to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 whilst remaining alert to new and emerging illicit finance risks. The FATF encourages the fullest use of responsible digital customer onboarding and delivery of digital financial services in light of social distancing measures. At a time when critical relief is needed in-country and beyond, effective implementation of the FATF Standards fosters greater transparency in financial transactions, which gives donors greater confidence that their support is reaching their intended beneficiaries. The continued implementation of the FATF Standards facilitates integrity and security of the global payments system during and after the pandemic through legitimate and transparent channels with appropriate levels of risk-based due diligence.
COVID-19-related financial crime risks :
Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out financial fraud and exploitation scams, including advertising and trafficking in counterfeit medicines, offering fraudulent investment opportunities, and engaging in phishing schemes that prey on virus-related fears. Malicious or fraudulent cybercrimes, fundraising for fake charities, and various medical scams targeting innocent victims are likely to increase, with criminals attempting to profit from the pandemic by exploiting people in urgent need of care and the goodwill of the general public and spreading misinformation about COVID-19. National authorities and international bodies are alerting citizens and businesses of these scams, which include impostor, investment and product scams, as well as insider trading in relation to COVID-19. Like criminals, terrorists may also exploit these opportunities to raise funds.
At the international level, the FATF is working with the Committee on Payment and Market Infrastructures and the World Bank to help ensure coordinated policy responses for the continued provision of critical payment services against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. The FATF, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and United Nations are working with their membership to mitigate the impacts of the COVID‑19 crisis, including through the use of AML/CFT measures, where relevant. In addition, the FATF is working with its members and the FATF-Style Regional Bodies to identify and share good practices in response to common issues faced in many affected countries.