The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an intergovernmental organization established to protect the integrity and stability of the international financial system. You can read more about what it does here

For those who don't know, more than 200 jurisdictions worldwide follow the FATF's guidelines and recommendations to strengthen their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures.

When the FATF Global Network gets together, it's a big deal. Why? Because policies that shape how countries and institutions worldwide combat financial crime are put in motion.

From February 21-24, the fifth Plenary of the FATF, under the Presidency of T. Raja Kumar of Singapore, was held in Paris. Note that observer organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank, INTERPOL, and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, were also in attendance.

Let's now dive into the four most significant developments from the Plenary. 

1. FATF's Grey List February 2024: Who's On? And Who's Off?

The FATF Grey List contains jurisdictions with weaker measures in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regimes under increased monitoring

When the FATF places a country on the grey list, it harms its economy and global reputation. Conversely, when a country is removed from the list, it's often a cause for celebration. Why? Because reforms that strengthened their financial systems have worked.

As a major financial hub in the Middle East, the biggest outcome of the Plenary is the removal of The United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the so-called grey list. The country was listed on March 4, 2022, and had put in place rigorous AML protocols.

But what other countries did the FATF remove? And who did they add?

Added in February 2024:

  • Kenya
  • Namibia

Removed in February 2024:

  • Barbados
  • Gibraltar
  • Uganda
  • UAE

You can read the complete February 2024 FATF Grey List here

2. FATF Blacklist: Stays the Same

FATF high-risk jurisdictions subject to a call for action is known as the blacklist. No changes were made in February 2024, with three countries appearing:

  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
  • Iran
  • Myanmar

3. Recommendation 25: New Risk-Based Guidance on Its Way

The FATF's Recommendation 25 (R.25) deals with beneficial ownership (BO) and the transparency of legal arrangements. It helps to 'identify the corrupt, sanctions evaders, money launderers and tax evaders who hide or launder their criminal property or activities in shell companies or other complex structures as well as trusts or other legal arrangements,' according to the Paris-based intergovernmental organization.

And you guessed it: The FATF just updated its risk-based guidance for this recommendation.

So what's changed?

Currently, precise details are thin, with the FATF stating that the updated guidance will be published at the end of February (in the coming days, at the time of writing).

What should we expect? According to the FATF, it aims to enhance global transparency in beneficial ownership. How far it goes and to what extent is still unknown.

4. FATF Appoints Next President

The Plenary also announced its decision to appoint Mexico's Ms. Elisa de Anda Madrazo as the next President of the FATF for a fixed two-year term. Ms. Madrazo will assume her new role on July 1, 2024, immediately following the conclusion of Mr. T. Raja Kumar's two-year Presidency.

Notably, Ms. Madrazo, a distinguished Fulbright Scholar, previously served as FATF Vice-President from July 2020 to June 2023.

Incoming FATF Chief: Mexico's Elisa de Anda Madrazo (Photo: EFE/ SRE)

February 2024 FATF Plenary: Closing Thoughts

They are all the key outcomes from the fifth Plenary of the FATF, which took place from February 21-23. The sixth plenary session will take place in June 2024.

Click here to read the full FATF press release with all the outcomes. 

Other areas include the continued call to action that jurisdictions remain vigilant of threats to the international financial system arising from Russia's war against Ukraine. The FATF also revealed that payment transparency and virtual assets are high on the agenda, with updates and consultations in the pipeline. keeps an up-to-date page with FATF high-risk and grey list jurisdictions. You can open and bookmark it here

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