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Kazakhstan might join FATF
Membership would help the country fight terror financing and money laundering, observers say.
By Gulmira Isakova
ASTANA – Kazakhstan could soon be joining a powerful group dedicated to fighting money laundering and terror financing.
Membership in the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has become a possibility, the Finance Ministry Financial Monitoring Committee reported in a statement. Conferees at a June 17-21 FATF meeting in Oslo selected Kazakhstan as one of 12 countries worthy of detailed consideration for full membership.
Presently FATF has 36 members, including two regional organisations and 34 member jurisdictions. It "monitors countries' progress in implementing the FATF Recommendations; reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures; and promotes the adoption and implementation of the FATF Recommendations globally," according to its website.
The FATF reviewed factors such as candidate countries' legal foundation for fighting terror financing and money laundering, financial sector as a whole, per capita GDP, etc., in selecting Kazakhstan, former Finance Ministry official turned financial analyst Bakhtir Samosov said.
"Our laws in these areas are sufficiently strong," he said. "We are constantly taking part in international workshops and seminars. If we gain full membership ... it will obligate the government to be more active in preventing money laundering and terror financing, maintaining ties with international partners and notifying them of potential threats."
Kazakhstan complies with its international obligations on preventing terror financing and money laundering, developing a transparent bank system, improving the operations of its financial institutions, etc., Musiraly Utebayev, Financial Monitoring Committee chairman, said.
Benefits to joining FATF
Regional organisations like the FATF are being founded because each region has its own set of issues, he said.
"Kazakhstan, for example, has to deal with Afghanistan – the issue of drug trafficking – which alarms not only our region but also the whole world," he said. "We're trying to find out the amount of drugs smuggled into Kazakhstan and the amount smuggled out, how much remains and how much it was sold for ... What's most important is where the money goes."
Joining the FATF will stimulate foreign investment, because FATF membership means Kazakhstan is committed to protecting foreign investment, Utebayev said.
Another observer welcoming FATF membership is economist Gani Kaliyev, leader of the Auyl Party. Membership would help solve many of Kazakhstan's economic problems, he predicted
"If it helps reduce corruption in Kazakhstan, then it's a welcome move," he said.
Full FATF membership would attest to Kazakhstan's increasing influence among developed countries and to the global community's growing trust in the Kazakhstani business community as Kazakhstan gears up to enter the ranks of the world's 30 most developed countries, according to the Financial Monitoring Committee.
Kazakhstan – if it joins the FATF and prevents money laundering – would be able to return money to its citizens, Kakharman Kozhamberdiyev, a political scientist and a leader of the country's Uighur community, said. "I see this as good news because we are integrating globally," he said. "We need to co-operate with other countries to do everything legally and to make sure that the Kazakhstani people's money doesn't just disappear."
After joining the FATF, Kazakhstan "will be able to expand its anti-terror financing operations, because the country will have access to international resources and experience," Samosov said.