Countering FATF’s ‘Lawfare’: Lessons from Pakistan

Geopolitics has overshadowed the Financial Action Task Force’s purpose of fighting money laundering. But Ankara must still use the language of the law to fight it out.

The October 22 decision by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Turkey on its so-called “grey list” would have come as a surprise to many in Turkey. But those with a keen eye for geopolitical developments knew that Turkey ending up on the FATF hot seat was a foregone conclusion.

As the inevitable has happened, Turkey needs to prepare for the consequences of being placed on the FATF grey list. Turkish policymakers also need to understand the evolution of FATF and the factors that have transformed it into a potent international institution with intrusive powers.

FATF, a seemingly innocuous international institution, has been transformed into an effective international weapon that is being used to bludgeon “non-compliant” states into submission. Everything is done under the rubric of “law” and by the sanction of the international community to lend a veneer of credibility to FATF.

But behind the facade of law lies the real FATF: an institution that has taken seed at the intersection of law and politics and whose underpinning legal framework has been corroded by geopolitics.

FATF was set up in 1989 as an initiative of the G7 group of advanced economies that include the US, UK and France to combat money laundering. FATF currently has 39 members (37 countries and two regional organisations).