By Sue Surkes
Israel on Monday became a full member of the Financial Action Task Force, an international body set up to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the international financial system.
The Jewish state has now taken its place alongside 37 other members — including most of the G20, the world’s 20 leading industrialized and emerging economies — just 16 years after being blacklisted by the organization.
According to the Justice Ministry, a FATF compliance report on Israel — also issued Monday and based on a detailed compliance audit carried out in Israel earlier this year — ranked the country as one of three leading states, alongside the US and the UK, for the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering apparatus, its battle against terror financing, the work of its Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, and its policy of seizing the financial proceeds of crime.
“Joining the organization is a national achievement on a political level, contributing to Israel’s ability to fight terrorist financing internationally, and strengthening the Israeli economy,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told a press conference.
Membership also tags Israel as an attractive country for international investment and improve the status of the Israeli financial sector and its ability to operate in the global economy, Shaked added.
Shlomit Wagman-Ratner, head of the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Authority, said, “The report reflects the decisive leap that Israel has taken over the past two decades in its perception of the need to protect the integrity and security of Israel’s financial system.”
FATF President Marshall Billingslea said, “In a comprehensive review of its anti-money laundering and terror financing regime, Israel successfully achieved good results in identifying and addressing the risks facing it.
“The review process is not the end point, but is Israel’s starting point for further strengthening the regime, and we are confident that in light of Israel’s commitment to protecting the integrity of its financial system, the county will act quickly to implement the recommended actions in the audit report.
“Membership in FATF opens a new chapter for Israel and will enrich FATF as an organization.”