Israel May Be Admitted to Global Anti-money Laundering Task Force

Joining the Financial Action Task Force will help improve coordination with many other nations in terms of intelligence and legal assistance, says official.

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Israel is eligible to join the Financial Action Task Force as a full member so long as it passes an inspection by the international organization tasked with preventing money laundering and illicit financing, said the Justice Ministry on Tuesday.

The FATF is an international organization founded by the G7 in 1989. It sets international standards for preventing money laundering and its goals include advancing countries’ legislation in this regard. It currently has 34 members, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Brazil, France, Russia, China, Japan, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, Japan and India.

Israel submitted an official request to join the body in 2012. At the time, the Justice Ministry believed that Israel was relatively unlikely to be accepted, in part because the group was not taking new members at the time.

Since then, though, Israel has improved its performance and the FATF has also opened its doors to new members, said a Justice Ministry source.

Justice Ministry sources say that passing the inspection should be a matter of course, as the FATF would not invite Israel to join if it believed it would not pass.

“This is an accomplishment that we’ve been trying to advance for years, as dozens of countries try to join. The significance is that we can take part in setting standards, and that advances our reputation and reflects on the financial sector,” said the source. “Joining is sort of like a positive cloud hovering over the nation and an indication that the financial system and government are functioning well.”

Attorney Paul Landes, head of the authority for preventing money laundering and terror financing, was one of the leaders of Israel’s application.

Joining the FATF is as important as joining the OECD, he said.

“Joining this organization will help improve coordination with many other nations in terms of intelligence and legal assistance, and will enable Israel to contribute its unique donation to setting standards and policy in fighting money laundering and terror financing,” said Landes.