Does the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Help or Hinder Financial Inclusion? A Study of FATF Mutual Evaluation Reports

May 23, 2019

As the organization responsible for setting international standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has encouraged countries to design measures that protect the integrity of the financial system and support financial inclusion. But it has also received criticism that poor implementation of its standards can undermine financial access. One of the FATF’s main tools for compelling effective use of its standards is the mutual evaluation process, which relies on peer reviews to assess countries’ level of compliance with the FATF Recommendations. We explore whether these reviews have been conducted in a way that helps or hinders national efforts to promote financial inclusion by reviewing the 33 developing country mutual evaluations that took place between 2015-2018. Overall, these findings suggest that assessment teams have conducted mutual evaluations in a way that supports efforts to promote financial inclusion and the flexible use of simplified measures. There is, however, inconsistency in how assessors treat risks emanating from financial exclusion, which suggests the need for a more systematic approach to evaluating these risks.  

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