After passing a rigorous assessment, Israel was admitted to the prestigious FATF.
Israel on Monday became the 38th full member of the International Monetary Fund’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body designed to cut off terror financing.
The FATF announced that Israel’s membership took immediate effect, following the publication of its mutual evaluation report.
Israel became an observer to the FATF in February 2016. Until then it had already been closely involved in the work of the FATF through its participation in the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), an FATF-style regional body of the Council of Europe entrusted with the task of assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The Council of Europe stated that due to its geographic location, “Israel faces a particularly high terrorist financing risk from sources outside Israel, while fraud, tax offenses, organized crime, public sector corruption and the use of cash are among the sources of money laundering risk for the country. Israel has successfully identified and understood these risks, which is reflected in the country’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing policies and activities.”
“Israel has demonstrated its ability to identify, investigate and disrupt terrorist financing activity at an early stage using a wide range of effective instruments and mechanisms, as well as effectively prosecuting, and convicting those involved,” the Council of Europe added.
“Israeli authorities are successfully co-operating and using financial intelligence and other information to pursue money laundering and terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions,” while also co-operating “well with international counterparts, given that most of the large domestic money laundering cases have international links and the country faces a high terrorist financing threat from abroad,” the statement said.
Since the start of its observership in February 2016, Israel has worked to meet the requirements for full membership of the FATF, which include undergoing a successful mutual evaluation, which it has now done, FATF stated.
Israel’s Robust Framework to Combat Terror Financing
FATF President Marshall Billingslea congratulated Israel on becoming a FATF member.
“Israel has undergone a rigorous assessment of its measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. During this demanding process, the country demonstrated its commitment to protect the integrity of the financial system,” he stated.
Israel has “established a robust anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing framework that is achieving good results in identifying and responding to the risks the country is facing,” he added.
“As a member of the FATF, the country’s experience and perspective will make a valuable contribution to our work to prevent the misuse of the financial system,” he underscored.
Shlomit Wagman-Ratner, head of the Israeli Justice Ministry’s anti-money laundering and terrorism financing department, said joining the FATF was “a national strategic objective,” Ynet news reported.
“For the first time, the state of Israel will be able to take part in setting international rules in the realm of terror financing and money laundering,” she underscored.
Ironically, Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has begun the process of joining the FATF.
Iran has a vast network of terror cells working around the world and has long provided support to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, as well as Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.
Accepting the CFT standards is unlikely to prevent Iran from continuing to support such groups.
Iran commenced the move after the FATF threatened to blacklist Iran if it did not fulfill 10 promises made to pass and enforce laws against financing terrorist groups.
The FATF gave Iran four more months to comply. If it doesn’t, the FATF could take measures further discouraging or hindering foreign investment in Iran.