The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) has included Albanian in its greylist for 2020. The FATF greylist includes 18 of the 20 regimes with the worst legal framework and agencies to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing. Whilst no ranking among them is presented, only North Korea and Iran are surely worse, and included in the FATF blacklist.
Countries in the FATF greylist are: Albania, The Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Iceland, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Uganda, Yemen, Zimbabwe. Trinidad and Tabago made it out of the list this year.
The FATF has commended the Albanian government for measures taken against terrorism financing but that has not been enough to save the country from dropping to the worrisome list.
The Albanian government will need to implement a detailed action plan if it wants to get the country out of this list. All of the six most important points of improvement highlighted by the FATF seem to be basic:
– In-depth analysis to understand its money laundering and other risks sufficiently;
– Improving the timely handling of mutual legal assistance requests;
– Establishing effective mechanisms to detect and prevent criminal infiltration of the economy;
– Ensuring that accurate and up to date basic and beneficial ownership information is available;
– Increasing the number and improving the sophistication of prosecutions and confiscations for money laundering;
– Improving the implementation of targeted financial sanctions.
The FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering, and since 2001 terrorism financing. It makes recommendations to countries and monitors progress in implementing its recommendations.
The FATF downgrading of Albania shows the government’s continuous failure to fight money laundering, informal economy, organized crime and corruption.
Several international institutions have rang the alarm about money laundering in Albania, especially since 2017.
The US State Department has included Albania among 40 countries for major money laundering for the third year in a row.
In 2018, Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL included Albania among countries to be monitored or money laundering and terrorism financing. The Albanian government approved some measures in 2019, but it MONEYVAL did not stop the monitoring.
In 2019, the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index included Albania among 39 most endangered countries for money laundering in the world.