Letter to the FATF President

 Date: March 25, 2022

Letter to President of the FATF regarding the public petition calling for Russia’s exclusion from the FATF

Sent on: 25 March 2022

Disclaimer: In the interest of publicity and accountability, the text of the letter is published below in full, only the contact details have been removed.

From: Mr. Ievgen Vorobiov, Coordinator, “No Finance For Russia”

To: Dr. Marcus Pleyer, President of Financial Action Task Force

Dear Dr. Pleyer,

The civil-society initiative “No Finance for Russia” is deeply concerned that the FATF has so far failed to act on its Public Statement on the Situation in Ukraine (hereinafter: the Statement) as of 4 March 2022. Amid the escalating Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s systematic violations of international law, the FATF continues to remain a silent bystander and, as many may perceive it, an inadvertent enabler of the Russian Federation’s unprecedented attack on the rule of law.

The Statement pledges that the FATF “will consider all options to help promote the security, safety and the integrity of the global financial system”. We believe that, given the appalling breach of FATF principles by the Russian Federation, the only acceptable option for the FATF would be to terminate Russia’s participation in the FATF’s ongoing activities and to designate a high degree of risk to that jurisdiction. Otherwise, continued inaction by the FATF threatens to lead to the complete loss of public trust in the institution. That is why, on 16 March, we published an open petition to urge the following steps:

  1. For the FATF President: to convene an additional extraordinary meeting of the FATF Plenary under para 25 of the FATF Mandate to review Russia’s membership;
  2. For the FATF Plenary: to immediately suspend the Russian Federation’s membership at FATF, and if its war of aggression against Ukraine continues, to expel the Russian Federation from the FATF membership as per para 20(e) of the FATF Mandate.
  3. For the FATF President: to address the FATF-style regional bodies to terminate Russia’s membership in the Eurasian Group and its observer status in the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, Middle East and North Africa FATF.
  4. For the FATF Plenary: to add the Russian Federation to the list of High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action and to communicate that decision publicly.

As of 25 March, this petition (attached as a PDF) has been signed by 150 international experts in law, anti-financial crime and public policy, dozens of officials from fourteen Ukrainian state institutions, as well as over 3000 concerned members of the public from more than 50 countries. The voices of these petitioners call for a response from the FATF.

The list of petition signatories – from the countries of almost all FATF members – makes it clear that both the professional community and the general public expect a more decisive action from the FATF in response to Russia’s flagrant assault on international security. Noteworthy, the Russian Federation has already been expelled from the membership of the FATF-Style Regional Body – MONEYVAL – on 17 March 2022. Furthermore, the OECD has decided to immediately suspend the participation of Russia and Belarus in OECD bodies. Finally, an active discussion is now ongoing regarding Russia’s exclusion from the Group of Twenty, as more G20 members speak against Russia’s presence in this international forum.

Russia’s exclusion from the FATF is also overdue. Our initiative recalls the declared Priorities for the German Presidency for 2020-22. The stated objectives of the FATF Presidency include, inter alia, strengthening the FATF governance, enhancing its strategic focus, and increasing its public visibility. However, the continued FATF membership of Russia, which has engaged in terrorist activity and has become the most sanctioned jurisdiction in the world over the past month, defies those objectives. Russia’s unimpeded role in decision-making will undermine the FATF’s governance, will derail its strategy implementation, and will tarnish the FATF’s public image as a guardian of financial integrity. Therefore, the FATF should pre-empt these significant risks by acting as fast as possible.

We urge the FATF Presidency to review our petition and to work towards enacting the four above-mentioned points in this petition without further delay and in cooperation with FATF member jurisdictions. The previous experience of the institution – including black-listing of individual jurisdictions – has demonstrated how impactful the FATF’s response can be when it seeks to protect the financial system from state actors that undermine international law. Such actions will also restore the FATF’s credibility as a global standard-setter among professionals and regulated entities in the financial sector, as well as the broader public.

Given that the President of the FATF acts as the principal spokesperson for the FATF and represents the FATF externally, we would like to request that you kindly inform us in writing about the FATF’s position with regard to the petition proposals within the next month. We look forward to continuing our communication with regard to this issue, as it has proven to be of significant legitimate interest to the international public. To that end, we will be also keeping our petition signatories abreast of the FATF Presidency’s response to the petition.

Best regards,

Ievgen Vorobiov (Mr.), LL.M. (Leiden University), Coordinator at “No Finance for Russia”

Sergii Rybchenko (Mr.), Anti-financial crime and Law enforcement expert

Attachment to the letter: Petition and the list of signatories.