FATF Conference on Digital Transformation

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11 June 2022, Berlin – Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President Dr. Marcus Pleyer urged the public and private sectors to work together by using new technologies to make efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing more efficient and effective.

“If we operate in bubbles – a bubble fighting crime – a bubble protecting privacy rights – a bubble for the private sector – a bubble for developing new technology – then we fail to address the real problems we face today. Connecting the dots across our various specialisations lets us see the bigger picture and solve the big problems of today and tomorrow,” Dr. Pleyer told the Conference on Digital Transformation in Berlin on Saturday.

More than 100 experts in financial crime, data protection, and technology gathered to discuss the potential benefits and challenges of digital transformation in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The conference marked the completion of four projects under the FATF’s German Presidency [Link], which has extensively considered the potential impact of new technologies on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing systems.

The FATF has proactively engaged with a range of national and international data protection and privacy (DPP) organisations to encourage greater compatibility of DPP and AML requirements, one of the key challenges identified by the private sector to greater innovation. Digital transformation relies on building a culture that embraces the use of technology, encourages responsible innovation, and ensures the protection of individual data rights, Dr. Pleyer said.

Keynote speaker, Deputy Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone of the UK Information Commissioner Office, also emphasised that AML and DPP are not mutually exclusive and can co-exist. He highlighted the importance of AML initiatives taking into account privacy concerns at the outset, and the opportunity for DPP authorities in shaping these initiatives.

FATF Ministers have identified Digital Transformation as a strategic priority of the FATF. Ahead of the Conference, the FATF published a Digital Strategy for Law Enforcement Agencies that focuses on key questions for digital transformation for money laundering and terrorist financing investigations and information exchanges.

The incoming FATF President, Mr T. Raja Kumar, whose term begins in July, committed to continuing engagement and work in this area. "Digital transformation is a necessity. Not a good-to-have, not a nice-to-have, but an imperative if you are going to keep up and win against the criminals," he told the conference.

A report on data protection will be considered by the FATF Plenary, the decision making body of the FATF, this week. If approved, it will be published in July 2022.