The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has given France a thumbs up in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in its first assessment report on the country since 2011. France is fighting ” efficient “judges the intergovernmental body, which recommends, however, improvements, including better supervision of certain professions exposed to financial crime, such as real estate.
The FATF, an intergovernmental body created in 1989 and bringing together 39 member countries, aims to clean up the international financial system by encouraging governments to adopt legislation against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. He also publishes a “grey list” of countries subject to heightened surveillance.
In its first evaluation report on France since 2011, the FATF highlights the “considerable work in identifying risks” led by the country, which allows it to“have a good and relatively uniform understanding of the risks of money laundering, and a very good understanding of the risks” regarding the financing of terrorism. “In general, law enforcement policies and activities adequately reflect the identified risks”sums up the organization after two and a half years of auditing.
For money laundering as for the financing of terrorism, “the system of struggle” implemented by the authorities through various mechanisms and structures “is effective in many ways” and disposes, from the point of view of the “technical compliance, a solid and sophisticated legal framework”notes the FATF.
Concerning terrorism alone, France, “particularly marked by the terrorist attacks of 2015, has made the fight against terrorism and its financing one of its major priorities and has obtained very good results”says the report.
The FATF does not rank the countries it assesses. But “by comparing with the results of other countries, France finds itself to be the most effective country in the field of the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism”affirms Didier Banquy, president of the Council of orientation of the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism (COLB), which depends on the direction of the French Treasury.
“No hole in the racket”
He is pleased that the report does not point “no structural failure, no hole in the racket” but “adjustments to be made. We will gradually integrate these recommendations into our action plan.”, he said in an interview with reporters. In terms of efficiency, France thus obtains the best rating (graduated between “high”, “meaningful”, “moderate”, ” weak “) for international cooperation, seizures and confiscations, investigations and prosecutions in the financing of terrorism.
She is, however, assigned a level ” moderate “ for the supervision and implementation of preventive measures, for which are recommended “significant improvements”. In particular, the low number of suspicious transaction reports sent to Tracfin, the Bercy anti-money laundering unit, by certain professions is pointed out.
These mandatory reports – in case of doubt about the origin of sums of money for example – are “heterogeneous”. “Notaries, online casinos and games, judicial administrators and legal representatives [en] submit a significant number. The others are still only submitting a small number”notes the FATF, which stresses in particular that “the efforts of real estate agents and domiciliation companies must be reinforced”.
For some of these occupations, “supervision is still recent and remains insufficient, in particular for real estate agents and notaries who are involved in a real estate sector exposed to significant money laundering risks”says the FATF.
On the side of the general management of the French Treasury, it is explained that this sector says “‘Non-financial’ is subject to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism more recently than the financial sector, and therefore there is, by definition, a ramp-up that needs to take place”. The FATF also recommends “strengthen the staff specifically trained and dedicated to the fight against money laundering, in particular, with local investigation services, overseas and in the investigation”.