Albania has been ranked as the 39th worst country for money laundering risks in the world. This is according to the Basel AML Index 2021.
The report, published every year, ranks countries from 1-110, one being the most problematic. Albania ranks alongside Cuba and Turkey with a score of 5.72, with ten being optimum.
The most high-risk country in the world is Haiti, with a score of 8.49, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Myanmar, and Mozambique.
The least risky country in 2021 is Andorra, with 2.73 points, followed by Finland, Cook Island, Slovenia, and Norway.
Albania has worsened over the years, as it ranked at number 44 with a score of 5.69 in 2020.
In its 10th edition, the Index is an annual ranking that assesses money laundering and terrorist financing threats. It mainly looks at the capacity of jurisdictional measures to combat them. The average global score is 5.22 out of 10, meaning Albania falls below the average.
Basel Governance said the results “raise grave questions about whether jurisdictions are serious about tackling their money laundering and terrorist financing risks.” They questioned what was holding them back from doing so.
Key issues highlighted by Basel include a lack of response to threats posed by virtual assets such as cryptocurrency. The report found that most jurisdictions decreased their scores for managing the risks posed by virtual assets and virtual asset service provides.
Governments have also been asked to engage in effective prevention, not just enforcement. They lamented that while many jurisdictions have laws in place, they are ineffective in practice. Furthermore, not much is in place in terms of preventing the crimes in the first place.
“These findings should ring an alarm bell for policymakers. Jurisdictions should invest more resources in the prevention, without reducing resources for enforcement.”
Other issues included a lack of transparency around ultimate beneficial ownership of legal entities and vulnerabilities beyond the financial sector. This includes lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, and other stakeholders.
Basel urged that “at minimum, more supervision is needed.”
In 2020, Albania was downgraded to the FATF greylist. The list includes regimes with the worst legal framework and institutions to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
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 Tobago made it out of the list this year.
In the 2021 US State Department Report on Albania, they found that no significant progress had been made against money laundering and financial crime in recent years.
It referred to the country as a “major money laundering destination” and said no real progress in combatting the issue. The report noted that this is due to corruption, weak legal and governmental institutions, and the prevalence of organized crime networks.
Albania also made the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network list as a country with “strategic AML and CFT deficiencies.”