Financial watchdog urges Turkey to step up efforts against money laundering

Pedro Gonçalves
Financial watchdog urges Turkey to step up efforts against money laundering

Turkey has been warned by an international watchdog to improve "serious shortcomings" in tackling money laundering and terrorist financing or face being added to a "grey list" should it fail to improve over the coming year.

In a report, Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures: Turkey, Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) stated that Turkey has a low rate of conviction for terrorism financing, pointing to data that the watchdog obtained from authorities showing more than 6,000 people were prosecuted in 2017 but only 115 convicted.

Out of 11 areas evaluated, Turkey was deemed to require major or fundamental improvements in nine. The report's findings mean Ankara will be put under observation for a year, and could be added to the grey list along with countries such as Pakistan, Mongolia and Yemen. if it does not make improvements. 

The country should do more to freeze assets linked to terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said the organisation, which is an independent watchdog tasked with helping combat threats to the international financial system.

The report acknowledges that Turkey has pursued a range of terror suspects in the courts. But it says specific charges related to terrorist financing and money laundering are often given low priority by prosecutors, who tend to focus on other, more serious charges.

It says the practice creates a missed opportunity to "discover financiers and go deeper to understand the broader network and support system" of international terrorist groups.

"When investigating terrorist financing cases, Turkey's authorities focus largely on identifying the assets held by terror suspects, rather than expanding the scope to include the collection, movement, and use of funds or other assets," FATF said.

"Due to its geographic location, the country faces the greatest money laundering risks from drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking and fuel smuggling," the FATF added. "The country also faces significant terrorist financing risks from both national and international threats."

Turkey says it abides by all international laws and United Nations resolutions.


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