'New technology can help us to be smarter and more effective,' says FATF President as he hails public-private coalitions. - AML Intelligence
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‘New technology can help us to be smarter and more effective,’ says FATF President as he hails public-private coalitions.

Image: FATF Twitter

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE HEAD OF the leading global agency against money laundering has renewed calls for data sharing and new technologies, saying that the fight against dirty money is an effort that will ‘save lives.’

Speaking to the International Compliance Association, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President Dr Marcus Pleyer said AML responsibilities fell on all obliged entities as “the first line of defence,” against financial crime.

He stressed the importance of these entities working together with law enforcement and supervisory bodies to stop financial crime worldwide, noting that the flow of dirty money was what enabled terrorists and gangsters to carry out their work, putting lives at risk.

In the first extensive interview since the latest FATF plenary last month, Dr Pleyer said that data sharing was a cornerstone of future AML frameworks.

“We could make a really big jump in becoming better if we would pool data together,” he told the ICA, although he cautioned that any advancements in this area must be complemented by efforts “preserving the right to privacy and data protection.”

His vision for data sharing relied heavily on cooperation between the public and private sectors – not just between authorities. This is something that has been debated heavily in European circles as new AML regulations are considered.

Following the FinCEN files leak in September involving several high-profile European banks, calls have been made on both sides for enhanced communication.

Authorities have asked for more information from financial institutions, and financial institutions have asked for more feedback from authorities on information they do send.

This feedback, it has been claimed, is lacking at present.

Meanwhile, Dr Pleyer also highlighted technological advancements as a key point on the road towards stronger AML frameworks.

“New technology can help us to be smarter and more effective,” he noted, harking to the potential benefits technology can bring to KYC due diligence, risk identification and transaction monitoring.

Technologies – some with AI-level capabilities – have recently been deployed within certain key financial entities such as NASDAQ, and have been commonly hailed as pathways to turning days of manual work into minutes of digital work.

There are now plans to bring together several experts from different sectors of AML – FIUs, law enforcement, regulators, encryption experts – in a new project which highlights the benefits of such technology, Dr Pleyer explained.

Marcus Pleyer assumed the Presidency of FATF in July 2020 and has said that some of his goals during his tenure include disrupting right-wing extremism, migrant smuggling and arms trafficking, as well as cleaning up the global AML loopholes caused by lax beneficial ownership laws.

He oversaw his first plenary in late October – during which he announced that Iceland and Mongolia had been removed from the organisation’s ‘grey list’ for acceptable compliance with its AML action plan.

Meanwhile, he defended FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan on the list, saying that more work was needed before such a decision could be made. 

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