Financial Action Task Force (FATF): What it is, How it Works

What Is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)?

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization that designs and promotes policies and standards to combat financial crime. Recommendations created by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) target money laundering, terrorist financing, and other threats to the global financial system. The FATF was created in 1989 at the behest of the G7 and is headquartered in Paris.

Key Takeaways

  • The Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, was originally started to combat money laundering. It has been expanded to also target the financing for weapons of mass destruction, corruption, and terrorist financing.
  • The task force was started in 1989 in Paris, where it is still called the Groupe d'action Financière.
  • Almost all developed countries support or are members of the FATF.

Understanding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

The rise of the global economy and international trade has given rise to financial crimes such as money laundering. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) makes recommendations for combating financial crime, reviews members' policies and procedures, and seeks to increase acceptance of anti-money laundering regulations across the globe. Because money launderers and others alter their techniques to avoid apprehension, the FATF must update its recommendations every few years.

A list of recommendations to combat terrorist financing was added in 2001, and in the latest update, published in 2012, the recommendations were expanded to target new threats, including financing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Recommendations were also added to be clearer on transparency and corruption.

Members of the Financial Action Task Force

As of 2021, there were 39 members of the Financial Action Task Force, including the United Nations and the World Bank. To become a member, a country must be considered strategically important (large population, large GDP, developed banking and insurance sector, etc.), must adhere to globally accepted financial standards, and be a participant in other important international organizations.

Once a member, a country or organization must endorse and support the most recent FATF recommendations, commit to being evaluated by (and evaluating) other members, and work with the FATF in the development of future recommendations.

A large number of international organizations participate in the FATF as observers, each of which has some involvement in anti-money laundering activities. These organizations include Interpol, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank.

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  1. Financial Action Task Force. "History of the FATF." Accessed July 22, 2021.

  2. Financial Action Task Force. "What Do We Do." Accessed July 22, 2021.

  3. Financial Action Task Force. "FATF Members and Observers." Accessed July 22, 2021.

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