FATF suspends Russia’s membership over Ukraine war

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The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global financial crime watchdog, on Friday suspended Russia’s membership, saying Moscow’s war in Ukraine violated the organisation’s principles.

The FATF is an inter-governmental organisation set up to combat money laundering and terrorism financing by setting global standards and checking if countries respect them.

“This is the first time a member of FATF is suspended,” FATF President Raja Kumar told a news conference. “Russia is effectively sidelined from the organisation.”

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Ukraine, which has made repeated calls to exclude Russia from the organisation, welcomed the decision to suspend Russia but added that it would continue its push with FATF members to go further and get Russia blacklisted.

“It’s not enough but it’s an important step in the right direction,” Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.

While Russia has now been suspended, it remains a member. The main consequences of Friday’s decision will be that Russia will be barred from attending all meetings and accessing documents, FATF said.

“The Russian Federation remains accountable for its obligation to implement the FATF Standards. The Russian Federation must continue to meet its financial obligations,” the FATF said.

“The Russian Federation’s actions unacceptably run counter to the FATF core principles aiming to promote security, safety and the integrity of the global financial system”, the Paris-based group said in a statement.

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Separately, the FATF on Friday added South Africa and Nigeria to its “grey list” of countries under special scrutiny to implement standards to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing and took Morocco out of the grey list.

FATF members include 39 countries, including the United States, India, China, and Saudi Arabia as well as European countries such as Britain, Germany and France and the European Union as such. Ukraine is not a member.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2023

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