What is the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 28 May 2020
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The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) is an international organization that researches money laundering activity and makes policy recommendations to help governments fight it. The Group of Seven (G7) established this organization in 1989 to address growing concerns about the international scope of money laundering activity. As of 2010, it included more than 35 member nations, along with a number of affiliate organizations. In addition to these members, the group works with regional anti-money laundering organizations, as well as other financial groups.

Members of the FATF have three missions. The first is to research the techniques and practices used by people to launder money, paying special attention to changing trends like new methods for hiding illegal income. The second is to develop guidelines for member nations to implement in the fight against money laundering. The third involves assessing nations to see how well they implement the guidelines and to evaluate the success of their anti-money laundering campaigns.

In 1990, the organization published a list of 40 recommendations to combat illicit financial activity. It periodically revises the list to reflect policy changes the group thinks member nations should make in order to stay current. The group also has a list of nine “special recommendations” to specifically address terrorist financing, developed in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

As part of its work to address global movements of funds for illicit purposes, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering also has a blacklist of nations. Countries on the blacklist do not cooperate with the organization's recommendations. Being on this list can have serious consequences, as financial transactions originating in or traveling to those countries are subject to more intense scrutiny, which can make it difficult to do business internationally for those governments and their citizens.

The headquarters of the FATF is in Paris. Members periodically meet to discuss policy recommendations, distribute information, and work on revisions to the organization's recommendations. It also considers applications for new members from nations with a significant role to play in anti-money laundering efforts, as well as international organizations with an interest in supporting the group's mission. Members of the public can access press releases and other announcements at the organization's web site when it inducts new members or makes changes to policy recommendations.

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