Philanthropy Advocacy raises awareness around the new money laundering and terrorism financing policy

02 February 2020

The Philanthropy Advocacy team organised throughout the last weeks several training and information sessions on how philanthropy can engage around money laundering and terrorism financing policies.

One of the sessions was held during PEXforum2020, a conference hosted by DAFNE and AEF in Madrid, Spain on 23 – 24 January 2020. Philanthropy Advocacy together with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) and WINGS dedicated a session to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and how CSOs can get involved if money laundering and terrorism financing policy are affecting their operating space.

FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The objectives of the organisations are to set standards and promote implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, which are not followed only by the national governments but also implemented by the European Union, in its legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Even though the FATF is not a legislator per se, it is a very powerful global framework setter and it conducts regular detailed country evaluations, based on the compliance with its Recommendations, while non-compliance can have negative impact on a country in question. However, in the process of evaluation a country, CSOs are given an opportunity to engage when the evaluator’s team, in order to provide the information on the situation in a country.

The aim of the session was to raise awareness on worrying trends of increased restrictions on CSOs/philanthropy globally due to the tightening AML/CFT policies, which are covering also CSOs. Participants attending the session were able to exchange their experience with the FATF country evaluation visits; on the way the meetings are conducted and how philanthropy and CSOs can prepare for onsite visits. The session was particularly helpful for participants from those countries which are in the middle of the FATF evaluation process, which is the case for Germany and The Netherlands in 2020.

Participants were also provided with additional useful information on the European and global initiatives on FATF, including Global NPO Coalition on FATF, which has been set up to ensure that civil society is effectively engaged in the debate on anti-money-laundering and combatting terrorism financing.

As the money-laundering and countering terrorism financing is one of the issues currently affecting the CSOs operating environment in a global context, Philanthropy Advocacy aims to raise awareness among the wider audience. Therefore, Hanna Surmatz, member of the Philanthropy Advocacy team spoke about FATF during a webinar Spotlight On: Enabling Environment experiences from the WINGS networks hosted by WINGS. The webinar was organised to showcase experiences with engagement around the enabling environment for civil society, connected also to the WINGS publication Impact Case Studies: "Promoting an enabling environment for philanthropy and civil society", featuring cases from different countries to bring to the spotlight experiences that often remain behind the scenes.

During the webinar Hanna introduced the Global NPO Coalition on FATF advocating on behalf of 130 philanthropy and civil society organisations to engage with FATF. From 2015 – 2017 the coalition led a project to help analyse the impact of the FATF policy on the NPO sector and developed concrete proposals alongside an advocacy strategy to improve the situation. Hanna presented the advocacy achievements of the Global NPO Coalition; FATF issued an ad hoc revision to the text of Recommendation No 8 that improved the situation for NPOs and also thanks to the efforts of Global NPO coalition, CSO got into formalized dialogue with FATF and CSOs gained 4 seats on FATF Private Sector Consultative Forum with one seat reserved for philanthropy.

Author: Nikoleta Bitterova, Philanthropy Advocacy