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FATF will examine Morocco to reassess its strategic situation

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Nadia Fettah, announced that the Moroccan kingdom is preparing to receive the experts of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) between 18 and 20 January 2023
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PHOTO/FILE  -   Nadia Fettah Alaoui, Minister of Economy and Finance of Morocco

Last October, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decided to keep the North African country on the "grey list" in order to rectify the strategic inadequacies of Morocco's anti-money laundering regime. The Alawi country had already been placed under surveillance by the European Union in February 2021, when it had just been removed from tax havens. 

The FATF indicated that, in February 2021, Morocco had expressed political commitments with its branch in the Middle East and North Africa, in order to strengthen the mechanism for the fight against money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and noted that the Kingdom has completed the implementation of the action plan, "however, it must be verified that work continues in this area," it specified. Despite all the efforts made by Rabat, the FATF kept it among the countries on the grey list. 

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AFP PHOTO / HO / PALACIO REAL DE MARRUECOS  -  Morocco's King Mohammed VI (R) presiding over a council of ministers accompanied by his son Prince Moulay Hassan, at the Royal Palace in the capital Rabat

These three days will be decisive for Morocco, which could be removed from the FATF grey list at the February plenary, if the evaluators' report is conclusive. This is why Morocco is preparing for this field visit where FATF experts will examine the strategic importance for the country to get off the list. 

The Working Group added that Morocco has finalised the legislative framework and measures to comply with international standards, noting that it has elaborated fundamental developments in this direction, emphasising "enhanced supervision and strengthening of the compliance monitoring framework with financial institutions, sharing of risk management results, as well as the assessment and diversification of suspicious transaction reports," it said. 

For its part, the National Financial Intelligence Authority (ANRF) noted that "according to the regulatory procedures approved by the Group, the decision to conduct the field visit reflects the group's conviction that Morocco has complied with all the axes included in the action plan in question"

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AFP PHOTO/HO/MOROCCAN ROYAL PALACE  -   The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI

The event will be decisive for Morocco as the stakes are high. Getting off the FATF's grey list will mean international recognition by the other nations. According to the FATF spokesman, the elements to be taken into account are being examined before the official visit in January. At this stage, the exchanges of information with the Moroccan authorities, according to the Financial Action Task Force, are being successful, and the final result will depend "to a large extent" on the integrity of the process and the discussions between the evaluation team and the government agencies and institutions involved. 

From the ANRF they affirm that all the institutions involved, which are under Moroccan leadership, are coordinated and organised so that the FATF experts can carry out the relevant examinations in the best possible conditions. Fulfilling the objective of getting off the grey list has become one of the Kingdom's priorities because of its high importance in the economic factor and in financial exchanges with the rest of the world. 

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REUTERS/YOUSSEF BOUDLAL  -  The Governor of the Central Bank of Morocco, Abdellatif Jouahri

Abdellatif Jouahri, governor of Bank Al-Maghrib, points out that the importance of getting off the FATF grey list would mean being able to start talks with the International Monetary Fund on new lines of financing that would ultimately lead to large transactions in the Alawi kingdom by investors from all over the world. 

Beyond this strategic issue of being able to raise funds internationally, getting off the FATF grey list would also allow Morocco to get off the EU's list. The consequences of being on the EU's list range from financing to simple currency, to the refusal of transfer operations because the EU's anti-money laundering law requires greater vigilance. 

On the other hand, remaining on the list would be a disaster for the North African nation, because if the FATF disagrees on a single point, it would mean remaining on the list and having to wait until the next plenary in 2024, which would be a serious blow for the country, hence the importance of these three days.