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First FATF virtual plenary takes place amid increased AML risks from COVID and looming decisions on ‘grey list’ countries

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is this week meeting at a virtual plenary – the first summit in the tenure of new President Dr Marcus Pleyer.

The 3-day summit began Wednesday, with input from various delegates involved in different areas of the fight against financial crime.

FATF will reveal the outcomes of the plenary in full on Friday. (Follow AML Intelligence for a complete rundown of new developments and reaction)

Chief among the issues on the agenda for FATF is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global capacity to detect, prevent and investigate money laundering and terrorist financing.

The discussion will come as several top experts have already stressed how lockdowns and turbulent economies are leading to increased instances of both, particularly in the digital space.  

Delegates will also discuss progress made by jurisdictions which have already been labelled as a risk to the global financial system.

Efforts to strengthen the global AML framework have regularly run into stumbling blocks as certain nations are deemed have comparatively weaker laws in place than others.

FATF operates a ‘blacklist and grey list’ system to identify countries requiring increased attention or concern. Only two countries – North Korea and Iran – feature on the ‘high-risk’ list at present.

The ‘increased monitoring’ grey list features 18 jurisdictions including, Zimbabwe, Yemen, The Bahamas, Albania, and Iceland. The progress of these countries in updating their AML framework will likely be a key point for discussion at the plenary.

With the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, FATF pushed back several deadlines as part of the review process to give countries on the grey list some breathing space.

All but two have embraced this offer; Iceland and Mongolia have nevertheless requested to proceed as originally planned and so have virtually met with FATF personnel since that time.

Physical on-site inspections are still required for official removal from the grey list however, and doubt still hangs over this possibility as COVID-19 cases and lockdowns are on the increase across the world.

FATF will hold a press conference Friday at 15:00 Brussels time, with coverage from AML Intelligence.

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