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Anti-money laundering group FATF suspends Russia

February 24, 2023

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has also added South Africa and Nigeria to its "grey list," a move that can be devastating to a nation's economy.

FATF flag
FATF's 'grey list' spells doom and gloom for a country's economyImage: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia's membership on the one-year anniversary of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"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 global financial oversight entity said.

FATF also announced the additions of South Africa and Nigeria to the "grey list" of countries under special scrutiny to implement standards to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

No country wants to be in FATF's 'grey list'

Both countries have made high-level political commitments to work with the FATF, the organization said. Countries on the grey list face increased monitoring when the country has "committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframe."

What is the FATF and what do its decisions mean?

FATF is an intergovernmental organization that seeks to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. It is a global standard bearer of sorts in that it checks and rechecks to see if countries are following basic principles of financial regulatory oversight.

The so-called grey listing of a nation on the FATF list can spell doom for a country's economy as it discourages investment, indicates an absence of rule of law and often results in the downgrading of a country's investment grade or rating.

The Paris-based organization added South Africa and Nigeria, meaning clients at financial institutions in these countries are also likely to experience increased due diligence checks in international banking and finance.

The consequences will also be felt on the state level when it comes time to seek credit or borrow from multilateral organizations and international financial institutions.

South Africa's Treasury sought to downplay the impact, arguing the country's grey listing would have a limited consequence on financial stability and the costs of doing business.

ar/rt (Reuters, AFP)