Global safeguards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT) are only as strong as the jurisdiction with the weakest measures. Criminals can circumvent weak AML/CFT controls to successfully launder money or to move assets to finance terrorism through the financial system. A key objective of the FATF is to continually identify jurisdictions with significant weaknesses in their AML/CFT regimes, and to work with them to address those weaknesses. The FATF’s process helps protect the integrity of the international financial system by issuing a public warning about the risks emanating from the identified jurisdictions. These public warnings also put pressure on the identified jurisdictions to address their deficiencies in order to maintain their position in the global economy. Public identification, and the prospect of public identification, encourages countries to swiftly make significant improvements.
The FATF continually identifies and reviews jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that present a risk to the international financial system and closely monitors their progress. The FATF’s International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) oversees the process. The process began in 2007 and was enhanced in 2009. It was further updated in 2015 to take into account the revised FATF standards and mutual evaluation process, which assess the effective implementation of AML/CFT measures.
The FATF reviews jurisdictions based on threats, vulnerabilities, or particular risks arising from the jurisdiction. Specifically, a jurisdiction will be reviewed when:
A jurisdiction that enters the ICRG review process as a result of its mutual evaluation results has a one-year Observation Period to work with the FATF or its FATF-style regional body (FSRB) to address deficiencies before possible public identification and formal review by the FATF. The FATF then prioritises the review of those countries with more significant financial sectors – e.g. USD 5 billion or more in financial sector assets.
During the review process the FATF considers the strategic AML/CFT deficiencies identified both in terms of technical compliance and effectiveness of measures in place, and any relevant progress made by the jurisdiction. If the FATF deems the progress insufficient to address its strategic deficiencies, the FATF develops an action plan with the jurisdiction to address the remaining strategic deficiencies.
For all countries under ICRG review, the FATF requires a high-level political commitment that the jurisdiction will implement the legal, regulatory, and operational reforms required by the action plan.
Four regional Joint Groups of the ICRG carry out the reviews, covering: Africa/Middle East, the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe/Eurasia. Each jurisdiction under review has the opportunity to participate in a face-to-face meeting to discuss the analysis of the Joint Group in advance of FATF plenary meetings.
The FATF publishes two statements at the end of each plenary meeting, in February, June, and October. These statements provide a short summary of the recent actions taken in accordance with each jurisdiction’s action plan, as well as a list of the strategic deficiencies remaining to be addressed. The two statements reflect the different levels of risk posed at any given time by the deficiencies in the jurisdictions under review.
Jurisdictions under increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. When the FATF places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, it means the country has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes and is subject to increased monitoring. This list is often externally referred to as the "grey list".
High-risk jurisdictions have significant strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and financing of proliferation. For all countries identified as high-risk, the FATF calls on all members and urges all jurisdictions to apply enhanced due diligence, and in the most serious cases, countries are called upon to apply counter-measures to protect the international financial system from the ongoing money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing (ML/TF/PF) risks emanating from the country. This list is often externally referred to as the “black list”.
In order to be removed from FATF monitoring, a jurisdiction must address all or nearly all the components of its action plan. Once the FATF has determined that a jurisdiction has done so, it will organise an on-site visit to confirm that the implementation of the necessary legal, regulatory, and/or operational reforms is underway and there is the necessary political commitment and institutional capacity to sustain implementation. If the on-site visit has a positive outcome, the FATF will decide on removing the jurisdiction from public identification at the next FATF plenary. The concerned jurisdiction will then continue to work within the FATF or the relevant FSRB, through its normal follow-up process, to improve its AML/CFT regime.