Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering

The Forty Recommendations

General Framework of the Recommendations
Role of National Legal Systems in Combating Money Laundering
  • Scope of the Criminal Offence of Money Laundering
  • Provisional Measures and Confiscation
Role of the Financial System in Combating Money Laundering
  • Customer Identification and Record-keeping Rules
  • Increased Diligence of Financial Institutions
  • Measures to Cope with the Problem of Countries with No or Insufficient Anti-Money Laundering Measures
  • Other Measures to Avoid Money Laundering
  • Implementation and Role of Regulatory and Other Administrative Authorities
Strengthening of International Co-operation
  • Administrative Co-operation
  • Other Forms of Co-operation


The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of policies to combat money laundering — the processing of criminal proceeds in order to disguise their illegal origin. These policies aim to prevent such proceeds from being utilised in future criminal activities and from affecting legitimate economic activities.

The FATF currently consists of 29 countries and two international organisations. Its membership includes the major financial centre countries of Europe, North and South America, and Asia. It is a multi-disciplinary body – as is essential in dealing with money laundering – bringing together the policy-making power of legal, financial and law enforcement experts.

This need to cover all relevant aspects of the fight against money laundering is reflected in the scope of the forty FATF Recommendations — the measures which the Task Force have agreed to implement and which all countries are encouraged to adopt. The Recommendations were originally drawn up in 1990. In 1996 the Forty Recommendations were revised to take into account the experience gained over the last six years and to reflect the changes which have occurred in the money laundering problem. 

These Forty Recommendations set out the basic framework for anti-money laundering efforts and they are designed to be of universal application. They cover the criminal justice system and law enforcement; the financial system and its regulation, and international cooperation.

It was recognised from the outset of the FATF that countries have diverse legal and financial systems and so all cannot take identical measures. The Recommendations are therefore the principles for action in this field, for countries to implement according to their particular circumstances and constitutional frameworks allowing countries a measure of flexibility rather than prescribing every detail. The measures are not particularly complex or difficult, provided there is the political will to act. Nor do they compromise the freedom to engage in legitimate transactions or threaten economic development.

FATF countries are clearly committed to accept the discipline of being subjected to multilateral surveillance and peer review. All member countries have their implementation of the Forty Recommendations monitored through a two-pronged approach: an annual self-assessment exercise and the more detailed mutual evaluation process under which each member country is subject to an on-site examination. In addition, the FATF carries out cross-country reviews of measures taken to implement particular Recommendations.

These measures are essential for the creation of an effective anti-money laundering framework.


[1] Reference in this document to “countries” should be taken to apply equally to “territories” or “jurisdictions”. The twenty-nine FATF member countries and governments are: Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Canada; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hong Kong, China; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Luxembourg; Mexico; the Kingdom of the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; Singapore; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; the United Kingdom; and the United States.

[2] The two international organisations are: the European Commission and the Gulf Co-operation Council.

[3] During the period 1990 to 1995, the FATF also elaborated various Interpretative Notes which are designed to clarify the application of specific Recommendations. Some of these Interpretative Notes have been updated in the Stocktaking Review to reflect changes in the Recommendations. The FATF adopted a new Interpretative Note to Recommendation 15 on 2 July 1999.


Recommendation 1

Each country should take immediate steps to ratify and to implement fully, the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (the Vienna Convention)

Recommendation 2

Financial institution secrecy laws should be conceived so as not to inhibit implementation of these recommendations.

Recommendation 3

An effective money laundering enforcement program should include increased multilateral co-operation and mutual legal assistance in money laundering investigations and prosecutions and extradition in money laundering cases, where possible.


Scope of the Criminal Offence of Money Laundering

Recommendation 4

Each country should take such measures as may be necessary, including legislative ones, to enable it to criminalise money laundering as set forth in the Vienna Convention. Each country should extend the offence of drug money laundering to one based on serious offences. Each country would determine which serious crimes would be designated as money laundering predicate offences.

Recommendation 5

As provided in the Vienna Convention, the offence of money laundering should apply at least to knowing money laundering activity, including the concept that knowledge may be inferred from objective factual circumstances.

Recommendation 6

Where possible, corporations themselves – not only their employees – should be subject to criminal liability.

Provisional Measures and Confiscation

Recommendation 7

Countries should adopt measures similar to those set forth in the Vienna Convention, as may be necessary, including legislative ones, to enable their competent authorities to confiscate property laundered, proceeds from, instrumentalities used in or intended for use in the commission of any money laundering offence, or property of corresponding value, without prejudicing the rights of bona fide third parties.

Such measures should include the authority to : 1) identify, trace and evaluate property which is subject to confiscation; 2) carry out provisional measures, such as freezing and seizing, to prevent any dealing, transfer or disposal of such property; and 3) take any appropriate investigative measures.

In addition to confiscation and criminal sanctions, countries also should consider monetary and civil penalties, and/or proceedings including civil proceedings, to void contracts entered into by parties, where parties knew or should have known that as a result of the contract, the State would be prejudiced in its ability to recover financial claims, e.g. through confiscation or collection of fines and penalties.


Recommendation 8

Recommendations 10 to 29 should apply not only to banks, but also to non-bank financial institutions. Even for those non-bank financial institutions which are not subject to a formal prudential supervisory regime in all countries, for example bureaux de change, governments should ensure that these institutions are subject to the same anti-money laundering laws or regulations as all other financial institutions and that these laws or regulations are implemented effectively.

Recommendation 9

The appropriate national authorities should consider applying Recommendations 10 to 21 and 23 to the conduct of financial activities as a commercial undertaking by businesses or professions which are not financial institutions, where such conduct is allowed or not prohibited. Financial activities include, but are not limited to, those listed in the attached annex. It is left to each country to decide whether special situations should be defined where the application of anti-money laundering measures is not necessary, for example, when a financial activity is carried out on an occasional or limited basis.

Customer Identification and Record-keeping Rules

Recommendation 10

Financial institutions should not keep anonymous accounts or accounts in obviously fictitious names: they should be required (by law, by regulations, by agreements between supervisory authorities and financial institutions or by self-regulatory agreements among financial institutions) to identify, on the basis of an official or other reliable identifying document, and record the identity of their clients, either occasional or usual, when establishing business relations or conducting transactions (in particular opening of accounts or passbooks, entering into fiduciary transactions, renting of safe deposit boxes, performing large cash transactions).

In order to fulfill identification requirements concerning legal entities, financial institutions should, when necessary, take measures:

  1. to verify the legal existence and structure of the customer by obtaining either from a public register or from the customer or both, proof of incorporation, including information concerning the customer’s name, legal form, address, directors and provisions regulating the power to bind the entity.
  2. to verify that any person purporting to act on behalf of the customer is so authorised and identify that person.

Recommendation 11

Financial institutions should take reasonable measures to obtain information about the true identity of the persons on whose behalf an account is opened or a transaction conducted if there are any doubts as to whether these clients or customers are acting on their own behalf, for example, in the case of domiciliary companies (i.e. institutions, corporations, foundations, trusts, etc. that do not conduct any commercial or manufacturing business or any other form of commercial operation in the country where their registered office is located).

Recommendation 12

Financial institutions should maintain, for at least five years, all necessary records on transactions, both domestic or international, to enable them to comply swiftly with information requests from the competent authorities. Such records must be sufficient to permit reconstruction of individual transactions (including the amounts and types of currency involved if any) so as to provide, if necessary, evidence for prosecution of criminal behaviour.

Financial institutions should keep records on customer identification (e.g. copies or records of official identification documents like passports, identity cards, driving licenses or similar documents), account files and business correspondence for at least five years after the account is closed.

These documents should be available to domestic competent authorities in the context of relevant criminal prosecutions and investigations.

Recommendation 13

Countries should pay special attention to money laundering threats inherent in new or developing technologies that might favour anonymity, and take measures, if needed, to prevent their use in money laundering schemes.

Increased Diligence of Financial Institutions

Recommendation 14

Financial institutions should pay special attention to all complex, unusual large transactions, and all unusual patterns of transactions, which have no apparent economic or visible lawful purpose. The background and purpose of such transactions should, as far as possible, be examined, the findings established in writing, and be available to help supervisors, auditors and law enforcement agencies.

Recommendation 15

If financial institutions suspect that funds stem from a criminal activity, they should be required to report promptly their suspicions to the competent authorities.

Recommendation 16

Financial institutions, their directors, officers and employees should be protected by legal provisions from criminal or civil liability for breach of any restriction on disclosure of information imposed by contract or by any legislative, regulatory or administrative provision, if they report their suspicions in good faith to the competent authorities, even if they did not know precisely what the underlying criminal activity was, and regardless of whether illegal activity actually occurred.

Recommendation 17

Financial institutions, their directors, officers and employees, should not, or, where appropriate, should not be allowed to, warn their customers when information relating to them is being reported to the competent authorities.

Recommendation 18

Financial institutions reporting their suspicions should comply with instructions from the competent authorities.

Recommendation 19

Financial institutions should develop programs against money laundering. These programs should include, as a minimum :

  1. the development of internal policies, procedures and controls, including the designation of compliance officers at management level, and adequate screening procedures to ensure high standards when hiring employees;
  2. an ongoing employee training programme;
  3. an audit function to test the system.

Measures to Cope with the Problem of Countries with No or Insufficient Anti-Money Laundering Measures

Recommendation 20

Financial institutions should ensure that the principles mentioned above are also applied to branches and majority owned subsidiaries located abroad, especially in countries which do not or insufficiently apply these Recommendations, to the extent that local applicable laws and regulations permit. When local applicable laws and regulations prohibit this implementation, competent authorities in the country of the mother institution should be informed by the financial institutions that they cannot apply these Recommendations.

Recommendation 21

Financial institutions should give special attention to business relations and transactions with persons, including companies and financial institutions, from countries which do not or insufficiently apply these Recommendations. Whenever these transactions have no apparent economic or visible lawful purpose, their background and purpose should, as far as possible, be examined, the findings established in writing, and be available to help supervisors, auditors and law enforcement agencies.

Other Measures to Avoid Money Laundering

Recommendation 22

Countries should consider implementing feasible measures to detect or monitor the physical cross-border transportation of cash and bearer negotiable instruments, subject to strict safeguards to ensure proper use of information and without impeding in any way the freedom of capital movements.

Recommendation 23

Countries should consider the feasibility and utility of a system where banks and other financial institutions and intermediaries would report all domestic and international currency transactions above a fixed amount, to a national central agency with a computerised data base, available to competent authorities for use in money laundering cases, subject to strict safeguards to ensure proper use of the information.

Recommendation 24

Countries should further encourage in general the development of modern and secure techniques of money management, including increased use of checks, payment cards, direct deposit of salary checks, and book entry recording of securities, as a means to encourage the replacement of cash transfers

Recommendation 25

Countries should take notice of the potential for abuse of shell corporations by money launderers and should consider whether additional measures are required to prevent unlawful use of such entities.

Implementation and Role of Regulatory and Other Administrative Authorities

Recommendation 26

The competent authorities supervising banks or other financial institutions or intermediaries, or other competent authorities, should ensure that the supervised institutions have adequate programs to guard against money laundering. These authorities should co-operate and lend expertise spontaneously or on request with other domestic judicial or law enforcement authorities in money laundering investigations and prosecutions.

Recommendation 27

Competent authorities should be designated to ensure an effective implementation of all these Recommendations, through administrative supervision and regulation, in other professions dealing with cash as defined by each country.

Recommendation 28

P>The competent authorities should establish guidelines which will assist financial institutions in detecting suspicious patterns of behaviour by their customers. It is understood that such guidelines must develop over time, and will never be exhaustive. It is further understood that such guidelines will primarily serve as an educational tool for financial institutions’ personnel.

Recommendation 29

The competent authorities regulating or supervising financial institutions should take the necessary legal or regulatory measures to guard against control or acquisition of a significant participation in financial institutions by criminals or their confederates


Administrative Co-operation

Exchange of general information

Recommendation 30

National administrations should consider recording, at least in the aggregate, international flows of cash in whatever currency, so that estimates can be made of cash flows and reflows from various sources abroad, when this is combined with central bank information. Such information should be made available to the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements to facilitate international studies.

Recommendation 31

International competent authorities, perhaps Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, should be given responsibility for gathering and disseminating information to competent authorities about the latest developments in money laundering and money laundering techniques. Central banks and bank regulators could do the same on their network. National authorities in various spheres, in consultation with trade associations, could then disseminate this to financial institutions in individual countries.

Exchange of information relating to suspicious transactions

Recommendation 32

Each country should make efforts to improve a spontaneous or “upon request” international information exchange relating to suspicious transactions, persons and corporations involved in those transactions between competent authorities. Strict safeguards should be established to ensure that this exchange of information is consistent with national and international provisions on privacy and data protection.

Other Forms of Co-operation

Basis and means for co-operation in confiscation, mutual assistance and extradition

Recommendation 33

Countries should try to ensure, on a bilateral or multilateral basis, that different knowledge standards in national definitions – i.e. different standards concerning the intentional element of the infraction – do not affect the ability or willingness of countries to provide each other with mutual legal assistance.

Recommendation 34

International co-operation should be supported by a network of bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements based on generally shared legal concepts with the aim of providing practical measures to affect the widest possible range of mutual assistance.

Recommendation 35

Countries should be encouraged to ratify and implement relevant international conventions on money laundering such as the 1990 Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime.

Focus of improved mutual assistance on money laundering issues

Recommendation 36

Co-operative investigations among countries’ appropriate competent authorities should be encouraged. One valid and effective investigative technique in this respect is controlled delivery related to assets known or suspected to be the proceeds of crime. Countries are encouraged to support this technique, where possible.

Recommendation 37

There should be procedures for mutual assistance in criminal matters regarding the use of compulsory measures including the production of records by financial institutions and other persons, the search of persons and premises, seizure and obtaining of evidence for use in money laundering investigations and prosecutions and in related actions in foreign jurisdictions.

Recommendation 38

There should be authority to take expeditious action in response to requests by foreign countries to identify, freeze, seize and confiscate proceeds or other property of corresponding value to such proceeds, based on money laundering or the crimes underlying the laundering activity. There should also be arrangements for coordinating seizure and confiscation proceedings which may include the sharing of confiscated assets.

Recommendation 39

To avoid conflicts of jurisdiction, consideration should be given to devising and applying mechanisms for determining the best venue for prosecution of defendants in the interests of justice in cases that are subject to prosecution in more than one country. Similarly, there should be arrangements for coordinating seizure and confiscation proceedings which may include the sharing of confiscated assets.

Recommendation 40

Countries should have procedures in place to extradite, where possible, individuals charged with a money laundering offence or related offences. With respect to its national legal system, each country should recognise money laundering as an extraditable offence. Subject to their legal frameworks, countries may consider simplifying extradition by allowing direct transmission of extradition requests between appropriate ministries, extraditing persons based only on warrants of arrests or judgements, extraditing their nationals, and/or introducing a simplified extradition of consenting persons who waive formal extradition proceedings.

Annex to Recommendation 9: List of Financial Activities undertaken by business or professions which are not financial institutions

  1. Acceptance of deposits and other repayable funds from the public.
  2. Lending.
  3. Financial leasing.
  4. Money transmission services.
  5. Issuing and managing means of payment (e.g. credit and debit cards, cheques, traveller’s cheques and bankers’ drafts…)
  6. Financial guarantees and commitments.
  7. Trading for account of customers (spot, forward, swaps, futures, options…) in:
  • money market instruments (cheques, bills, CDs, etc.) ;
  • foreign exchange;
  • exchange, interest rate and index instruments;
  • transferable securities;
  • commodity futures trading.
  1. Participation in securities issues and the provision of financial services related to such issues.
  2. Individual and collective portfolio management.
  3. Safekeeping and administration of cash or liquid securities on behalf of clients.
  4. Life insurance and other investment related insurance.
  5. Money changing.


[1] Including inter alia

  • consumer credit
  • mortgage credit
  • factoring, with or without recourse
  • finance of commercial transactions (including forfaiting)