Anti-money laundering: tougher oversight required

Anti-money laundering: tougher oversight required

Each year the developing world loses an estimated US$ 1 trillion to illicit financial flows, money that could better the lives of millions of citizens but ends up funding the lifestyles of the corrupt, criminals and tax abusers.

One of the institutions with a major role to play in stopping this is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental organisation with a specific mandate to fight money laundering and ensure governments implement laws designed to keep the financial system – as well as key business sectors such as real estate – safe from the proceeds of corruption and crime. 

Over the next seven years the FATF committed to publish over 180 country specific reports on how well governments are doing to stop illicit financial flows and whether they have the requisite anti-money laundering mechanisms in place. Recommendations from these reports are supposed to strengthen national and global financial systems and prevent money laundering.

In 2013, FATF introduced a new methodology that promises to look at the practical effectiveness of a country’s frameworks, and not just whether laws are in place. At the time, FATF said that effectiveness had moved to the top of its agenda.

Spain in the spotlight

In light of the high expectations for this new round of assessments, the first report, which was released last week on Spain, is a disappointment.

The report is based on limited evidence, not thoroughly sourced, and its conclusions are largely unsupported by the evidence presented. For example, several chapters reference no bibliography and two rely on one bibliographic source: the Statistics Report of Spain’s Committee for the Prevention of Money Laundering and Monetary Offences (2013).

In 2014 numerous corruption scandals in Spain with top politicians and even members of the royal family accused of allegedly using shell companies to hide money have made money laundering a hot topic. So it may come as some surprise that the FATF gave Spain overall high marks for its anti-money laundering efforts, despite outlining  weaknesses in the system including:

Spain did introduce new anti-money laundering legislation in May but the FATF would not have been able to judge its effectiveness in practice, given that the visit by the assessment team to the country took place around the same time.

The strong way forward

In order to strengthen the results of the FATF country assessments, Transparency International recommends greater transparency and broader consultation in the assessment process. In particular:


Image: Creative Commons, Flickr / Images Money

For any press enquiries please contact


Support Transparency International

#18IACC: Call for workshop proposals now open!

The 18th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference to take place in Copenhagen from 22-24 October 2018 is thrilled to announce that the call for workshop proposals is now open. Help us shape the #18IACC agenda! Anyone interested in the fight against corruption is welcome to submit a proposal.

The impact of land corruption on women: insights from Africa

As part of International Women’s Day, Transparency International is launching the Women, Land and Corruption resource book. This is a collection of unique articles and research findings that describe and analyse the prevalence of land corruption in Africa – and its disproportionate effect on women – presented together with innovative responses from organisations across the continent.

Passport dealers of Europe: navigating the Golden Visa market

Coast or mountains? Real estate or business investment? Want your money back in five years? If you're rich, there are an array of options for European ‘Golden Visas’ at your fingertips, each granting EU residence or citizenship rights.

How the G20 can make state-owned enterprises champions of integrity

For the first time in its presidency of the G20, Argentina is hosting country representatives from across the globe to address the best ways of curtailing corruption and promoting integrity in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

As follow-up to the regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, additional examples from Albania, Kosovo and Georgia highlight the need for more progress in anti-corruption efforts in these countries and across the region.

Lutte contre la corruption en Afrique: Du bon et du moins bon

La publication de la dernière édition de l’Indice de perception de la corruption (IPC) offre un bon point de repère pour situer les efforts de lutte contre la corruption que l’Union africaine (UA) poursuivra tout au long de 2018

No hay cambios en las percepciones pese a los avances en América

En los últimos años, América Latina y el Caribe lograron adelantos significativos en la lucha contra la corrupción. En muchos países de la región existen ahora leyes y mecanismos para contrarrestar este fenómeno, las investigaciones legales están avanzando y los movimientos ciudadanos anticorrupción han incrementado. Sin embargo, de acuerdo con el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción (IPC) 2017, la región continúa con bajos puntajes.

A redefining moment for Africa

The newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) provides a good baseline for the African Union (AU) anti-corruption efforts in 2018. This year’s theme for the AU is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” As the AU rolls out its plan, this is an important moment for Africa to take stock of the current situation.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world