Remarks for the Opening Ceremony of FATF TREIN

Remarks by David Lewis
FATF Executive Secretary
Busan, Korea, 20 September 2016

Distinguished guests,
ladies and gentleman,

I am honoured to be here today on behalf of the FATF President, at the opening of the FATF Training and Research Institute.

Money is the motivator and enabler of crime and terrorism. FATF’s role is to deprive them of money. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and to promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. In collaboration with other international stakeholders, the FATF also works to identify national-level vulnerabilities with the aim of protecting the international financial system from misuse.

The FATF essentially does three things:

  • it researches the ways criminals launder money and terrorist organisations raise and access funds;
  • it sets global standards to make it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to do this; and
  • it assesses how effective countries are at implementing the standards and mitigating these risks.

If countries effectively implement the FATF standards, financial systems and the broader economy are protected from the threats of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation, thereby strengthening financial sector integrity and contributing to safety and security.

Today the FATF consists of 37 members and 9 regional bodies. It works in close partnership with the UN, the IMF and World Bank. 198 jurisdictions have committed at the highest level to implementing the FATF standards and being assessed by their peers. As a result, we are seeing successful investigations every day in countries all over the world. We are seeing assets denied, organised crime groups disrupted, terrorist networks identified and terrorist organisations increasingly cut off from the financial system. Most countries now have the legal, regulatory and operational frameworks in place to be able to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. And we continue to identify and isolate those that do not and present a risk to the international financial system.

The challenge we face today is not the absence of the tools necessary to do the job. It is the effective use of these tools by countries. That is why the primary focus of FATF today is assessing how effectively countries are mitigating the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. The importance of this has never been more apparent in the terrorist attacks faced by all countries, the abuse of corporate vehicles as highlighted by the Panama Papers, or the serious threat presented by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that the citizens of the Republic of Korea live in daily fear of.

Many countries around the world lack the capacity or capability to effectively mitigate these risks. Helping them understand the risks they face and providing them with the technical assistance they need is critical to enabling them to protect the financial system, their economies and people.

Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures are only as strong as the weakest link. The FATF Training and Research Institute will be the first FATF body to provide practical hands-on assistance to all 198 members of the FATF Global Network in the effective implementation of the FATF Standards.

It has the full support of all FATF members, and will work for the FATF and each of the 9 FATF-Style Regional Bodies. It will work in close partnership with the providers of technical assistance such as the IMF, World Bank and UNODC. And it will help to coordinate the activities of these and countries that provide technical assistance all over the world.

Through the institute’s facilities, government officials from all member countries of the FATF Global Network will have access to a comprehensive training and research programme. Low capacity countries or countries with a less mature AML/CFT regime will be able to benefit greatly from this additional expertise and research.

The institute will also provide a venue for the training of government officials involved in the assessments, or mutual evaluations, of countries’ implementation of effective AML/CFT measures. Assessors and officials whose country is being reviewed, will learn more about the way the FATF and the FATF-Style Regional Bodies measure the effectiveness of AML/CFT measures.

Ultimately, the training and research facilities will increase the capacity of all countries to fully and effectively implement sound measures to protect the integrity of the financial system and ensure that FATF and its regional bodies take a consistent approach to measuring the effectiveness of each country’s efforts to tackle threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

I am confident that under the leadership of Mr Kevin Stephenson, and the support of the FATF Global Network, the FATF Training and Research Institute will achieve the high aspirations we all have of it. I look forward to helping making this a reality and I wish Kevin and his team every success.