Episode 177: FATF Creating Gold Standards and Paper Realities?

FATF - Is it the new "F" word?


This week both Faisal Khan and Dr. Mara Wesseling sit down and discuss FATF - the Financial Action Task Force, an organization based in Paris, France.

This show focuses on the FATF, the Financial Action Task Force. We discuss why the organization – that remains unknown to many finance and payments professionals and even to AML/CFT compliance specialists, is so powerful and important. We discuss the basics: why was it created? What are FATF’s goals? What are the down sides or unintended consequences of the standards it sets? We discuss the effects of non-compliance on countries and the inner workings of the mutual evaluation process that countries go through. Finally, we touch upon the questions of political influence, organizational overreach and even bullying through FATF decision making.

Related Links:

FATF Webpage: http://www.fatf-gafi.org/  

-Academic work:

The regime that FATF built: an introduction to the Financial Action Task Force (2018) written by M.T. Nance, In: Crime, Law and Social Change, March 2018, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 109–129. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10611-017-9747-6   

This article provides a primer on the history and purpose of FATF and lays out some of the central debates over FATF and the anti-money laundering (AML) regime. Finally, as a way of giving readers an overview of the articles in the special issue, it proposes a series of themes that academics and practitioners should consider in future research and work with FATF. This article claims “FATF might be perfectly effective at diffusing perfectly ineffective rules”.

Can the AML System be Evaluated without Better Data? (2018) written by Levi, M., Reuter, P. and Halliday, T., In: Crime, Law and Social Change, March 2018, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp. 307-328. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs10611-017-9757-4.pdf  

The Anti-Money Laundering regime has been important in harmonizing laws and institutions, and has received global political support. Yet there has been minimal effort at evaluation of how well any AML intervention does in achieving its goals. There are no credible estimates either of the total amount laundered (globally or nationally) nor of most of the specific serious harms that AML aims to avert. Consequently, reduction of these is not a plausible outcome measure. In the absence of more consistent and systematic data analysis, claims that countries have less or more effective systems will be open to allegations of ad hoc, impressionistic or politicized judgments.

Summary of the policy assessment made in preparation of the upcoming FATF evaluation of the Netherlands and an academic assessment of the FATF evaluation methods. "Executive summary Counter Terrorism Financing Policy in the Netherlands: Effectiveness and Effects" written by Mara Wesseling and Marieke de Goede: https://www.wodc.nl/binaries/2689D_Summary_tcm28-372746.pdf  

This report assesses the initiatives undertaken by the Netherlands to combat terrorism financing and the extent to which it relates to these activities relate to the FATF objectives. The Dutch version of the report has a whole chapter on the FATF framework, its objectives and its evaluation methodology. The English summary provides the issues on p. 2 and 3.  

This infographic summarises the points of critique with regard to the FATF evaluation methodology, policy making processes and how it defines typologies and threats. (See attachment) (Contact mara@aroundthecoin.com if you want to learn more).

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Host: Faisal Khan

Guest: Dr. Mara Wesseling

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Episode Transcript