When I started working in AML – back when the world was in black and white – I didn’t have my own computer. Instead, I would go into the University Library in Cambridge, and use their computer to find and print anything that featured the words “money laundering”. That sounds mad now, but at the time, there really wasn’t that much – and 95% of it was put out by the Financial Action Task Force. And nearly twenty years later and with the FATF entering their 25th year of operation, they are still my first port of call for most matters money laundering and anti.
At the end of June, Australian Roger Wilkins took over as President of the FATF for the coming year, and announced his objectives – you can read them here. They are all laudable (given my own recent blog post on the subject, I was interested to note that they are concerned about virtual currencies), but I was particularly pleased to see that they are planning to raise the profile of the FATF – to “take stock of what the FATF has achieved and what now needs to be done”. As so often happens with things that have been around for some time, quietly and efficiently getting on with their work, I think we take the FATF for granted. And it seems to me that Mr Wilkins has identified some of the key points that could be addressed: emphasising the practical consequences of non-compliance with the FATF Recommendations (we all use FATF approval – or lack of – as a handy indicator, but they don’t shout enough about it); moving toward the international top table (e.g. by cosying up to the G20); and publicising the great improvement represented by the FATF’s “new focus on effectiveness”.
Whenever I am researching a new ML-related topic, the FATF is always my first port of call. Their reports into ML techniques and typologies are required reading, and their case studies are generous in the extreme. And if I am trying to get a grip on how a jurisdiction approaches AML, my starting point is its most recent FATF (or FATF-style) mutual evaluation report. They have given me immeasurable help, and so I raise a celebratory Jaffa Cake to them and wish them another successful quarter-century of AML leadership.