On March 17, 2021, the Financial Action Task Force announced the start of a new project “to study and mitigate the unintended consequences resulting from the incorrect implementation of the FATF Standards.
The project started in February 2021 and will examine the following four areas
- “De-risking, or the loss or limitation of access to financial services. This practice has affected non-profit organizations (NPOs), money value transfer service providers, and correspondent banking relationships, in particular;
- Financial exclusion, a phenomenon whereby individuals are excluded from the formal financial system and denied access to basic financial services;
- Suppression of NPOs or the NPO sector as a wholethrough non-implementation of the FATF’s risk-based approach;
- Threats to fundamental human rightsstemming from the misuse of the FATF Standards or AML/CFT assessment processes to enact, justify, or implement laws, which may violate rights such as due process or the right to a fair trial.”
The FATF will conduct the project in two phases:
Phase One: research and engagement. The project will analyze these unintended consequences resulting from the misuse of the FATF’s Standards on preventing and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This work will rely on the knowledge and experiences of members of the FATF’s Global Network of 205 jurisdictions, its observers, and outside stakeholders.
Phase Two: solutions. The second phase will develop options the FATF could consider to prevent and mitigate these unintended consequences.
According the announcement, the FATF welcomes input to inform this project, including scholarly research; industry and civil society perspectives; and documented instances of unintended consequences. Information may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The announcement states the project is an opportunity to study trends and propose solutions. Any information provided to the FATF Secretariat will be shared with the project team and the source will be identified.
New Lists of High-Risk Jurisdictions and Jurisdictions in Need of Increased Monitoring
On February 25, 2021, the FATF announced its list of High-Risk Jurisdictions (also commonly referred to as its “blacklist”) subject to a Call for Action (Iran and North Korea) and jurisdictions in need of increased monitoring (commonly referred to as its “grey list”). The list has the following jurisdictions: Albania, Barbados, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Senegal, Syria, Uganda, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
One of the problems with the list of high-risk jurisdictions is that they’ve been on the list now for many years and they are also on international and national sanctions list. As a result, many banks and financial institutions will not process transactions, even ones that are for genuine humanitarian purposes due to the risk of large penalties.
Another practical problem is that jurisdictions on either list tend to also land on the European Union list of high-risk jurisdictions for money laundering (commonly referred to as its AML/CFT blacklist).
Although the FATF does not mandate the application of enhanced due diligence measures for jurisdictions under increased monitoring, it encourages member jurisdictions to take the listing into account when undertake their risk analysis. The measures to be applied will vary, but may result in: (a) a requirement to perform more comprehensive due diligence on the customer’s source of funds and source of wealth and/ or (b) increased internal controls on business acceptance and ongoing monitoring.
Practically speaking, regulators around the world take into account the listing as do the electronic databases used by financial institutions and intermediaries when they are on-boarding and reviewing clients for customer due diligence. As a result, banks and financial institutions from the metropole tend to limit or terminate correspondent bank relationships (de-risking) and withdraw from having branches or subsidiaries in the jurisdictions, especially because the listed jurisdictions tend to be small jurisdictions. The result is that persons and businesses in these jurisdictions increase higher costs to bank, especially internationally. Ultimately, the listings lead to financial exclusion of the small jurisdictions and their inhabitants, even though many already experience a high degree of lack of access to formal financial markets.
The current issue of the IELR will have a more comprehensive discussion of the issues raised in this post.