Turkey falls seriously short in tackling money laundering, terrorism funds

Turkey has serious shortcomings in tackling money laundering and terrorist financing and risks being added to an international “grey list” should it fail to improve over the coming year, said a report published by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Monday.

Turkey will now be subject to special monitoring, which could eventually damage its ability to attract financing from abroad, the report said.

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.

“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 said. “The country also faces significant terrorist financing risks from both national and international threats.”

Turkey completed a national risk assessment last year, but while its strengthened laws and regulations form a foundation for positive action, it needs to swiftly improve implementation in a number of areas, the FATF said.

Steps Turkey should take include better using financial intelligence and improving and increasing money laundering investigations, which currently result in few convictions, FATF said. It also needs a national strategy to permanently deprive criminals of the proceeds of their crimes, it said.

“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.

Still, Turkey has demonstrated a substantial level of effectiveness in co-operating with foreign counterparts on a variety of requests and sharing information both spontaneously and on request, the watchdog said.