The upcoming FATF plenary meeting is of great importance in shaping global efforts to protect the integrity of the international financial system in view of the growing threats from Russia. Weak regulatory frameworks and inadequate response mechanisms provide a favorable environment for illicit financial flows. Reports have repeatedly highlighted the involvement of Russian entities in sophisticated money laundering schemes.
But today, the financial system is flooded with illicit money flows of Russian origin more than ever, as the Kremlin needs resources for its criminal activities — financing terrorism, purchasing weapons and components to circumvent all sanctions restrictions and export controls.
That is why we are convinced that expelling Russia from the FATF and blacklisting it will not only protect the global financial system from the risks posed by Russia, but will also significantly strengthen the sanctions regime of the "coalition". This step will complicate Russia's attempts to purchase high-tech components for weapons production through intermediaries for Russian companies. It will require financial institutions to apply enhanced control protocols for transactions that may have links to Russia.
Ukraine presented a meticulously documented statement to the FATF outlining all legal arguments and evidence confirming Russia's involvement in financing terrorism. In addition, many reputable experts, think tanks, and investigators have repeatedly emphasized the numerous compelling reasons Russia should be blacklisted by the FATF.
Now I want to emphasize the global challenges that I am sure the FATF cannot ignore.
Today, the world is witnessing the creation of a partnership between Russia and Iran, which is creating a dangerous strategic alliance. We have witnessed significant progress in relations between the two countries, driven by common interests and a desire to overcome the economic challenges caused by international sanctions.
Over the past year, Iran has become Russia's main military ally, supplying ammunition and kamikaze drones that are constantly used to attack Ukrainian civilian targets, as well as assisting in the production of such UAVs in Russia.
We are witnessing how the strengthening of the partnership between Russia and Iran goes beyond close cooperation in the military sphere and covers strengthening economic ties, cooperation in the energy sector and, last but not least, in the financial sector.
Regular visits by Russian emissaries, a high-level delegation headed by Elvira Nabiullina, the opening of VTB Bank's representative office in Iran, numerous trade and economic projects, and cooperation in banking infrastructure are some of the most visible signs of the strategic alliance.
Deepening financial ties between the two countries has significant implications for the security of the global financial system, as it opens the way for illicit financial flows from a country blacklisted by the FATF.
Today, Russia recognizes the overwhelming evidence of its non-compliance with FATF standards and the real chances of being blacklisted by FATF, so it resorts to blackmail and political pressure. Such aggressive behavior is not a surprise to us.
Realizing that its crimes are grounds for blacklisting, Moscow is making tremendous efforts to force member states not to take such a step. FATF members should not succumb to such pressure.
Russia's growing economic and political influence poses a serious threat to the values that the FATF cherishes: trust, cooperation, and a collective commitment to fighting financial crime.
Such behavior destroys confidence in the system and sets a dangerous precedent that threatens international cooperation in combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And this is another proof that Russia's "blacklisting" is now gaining special importance in the context of assessing the country's compliance with FATF standards.
Today, the global financial system must be protected by the unity, cooperation, and collective commitment of the FATF member states and their decisive response to Russia. That is why it was important to talk to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, a FATF member country that currently holds the G20 presidency.
As the head of the NBU, I personally asked to support Ukraine's submission to the heads of the central banks of the countries of the pro-Ukrainian coalition, which are influential members of the FATF – the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Their authority and strong position in the FATF today will guarantee security for the global financial architecture in the future.
We hope that our partners will support Ukraine and take a significant step towards protecting the global financial system from Russia’s dirty money.
Author: Andriy Pyshnyy, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine