July 14, 2020

The Financial Action task force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terror financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent those illegal activities and the harm they cost to society. As a policy making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulating reforms in these areas in more than200 countries underits jurisdiction andis committed to implement the FATF recommendations & standards to ensure a coordinated global response to prevent organized crime, corruption and terrorism.”

Experts describe fulfilling the Financial Action Task Force(FATF) requirements in such a way that the system promotes effective legislative approval, operative and regulatory measures and it is being implemented properly. In Post-Corona Era where Bio-terrorism has been materialized as real future threat FATF has to revisit its recommendations regarding structural and target oriented frame work to meet its primary goal i.e. do away with all type of Terror Financing (TF) in any legal, administrative or political jurisdiction and terrorist attack anywhere in the world.

It’s a glaring truth that COVID-19 having anonymous patentwidespread sway, and indiscriminateattack on global citizens and economy. This outbreak has a direct impact on lives of billions of people and has come forward as a bald-faced model for future potential terror activities and new techniqueof warfare. It has the break open of an earthquake with permanent aftershocks that almost eternally reshapes& redesigns the world. In coming time, the year 2020 will be known as a straight line between “Pre-Corona” and “Post-Corona” world.The of-repeated issues of terrorism and TF havealtogether changed their dynamics in Post Corona world. It has proven to be a greatest test for leadership than 9/11 and the financial crisis combine up and to the right. The further we delve deep into the future, the farther we foresee theimpendingdanger of reinvention of corona virusby the stakeholders of globe. And this would entail significant changes in operating procedures and strategies of national and international organizations. FATF, as an international organization needsto redefine andreform its standards andstrategiesfor combating money laundering and terror financing inaccordance with the needs of Post Corona world to counter Bio-terror financing.

FATF needs to set some new guiding principles and should eradicate & do away with all types of White, Grey & Black list. Itmust call a meetingon an emergency basis and ask from all contemporary existing and non-existing members to give their proposals & suggestions to stand against any type of potential terror threat to whole world. It may have these three point agenda in front of the members for discussion and adoption:

Not allowing any state or jurisdiction to participate in case of any type of previous established enmity, war, opposition or conflict in order to apprehend any “biased opinion” by keeping in view the “global consequence” regarding allegedly money laundering  & terror financing. For instance USA may not talk into the matter against Iran and also same in case of Pakistan, India must not be allowed to persuade in any form against Pakistan. This will also help to diminish & trim down the state of war among different states of the world and encourage them to resolve their issues through dialogues and not war which is also a primary goal of UN.

FATF may acquire it as a liability to facilitateand be obliged to place legal sanction to every transaction shifting into digitalized one (time frame may be given), which may serve a major step towards scrutinizing and possibility of counter checking of any suspicious or illegal transaction.

FATF may facilitate many countries to use of mass surveillance technologies which are currently being used in China and Israel (in a limited manner) as aninstrument in these exceptional circumstances of fight against COVID-19(bio-terrorism / health terrorism). This theoretical exceptional situation may becomestandardized and permanent; may also give rise to abuse by the authorities. FATF may design and implement updatedcompliance/standards with high tech. mass surveillance technologies that must be regulated, and collected data must be protected taking into consideration fundamental rights (esp. right to privacy) ensured by the constitution of any country and international Human Rights Convent. The terror-financing changing its dynamics to Cyberlaundering& bioterror financing, and if FATF may able to put forward this idea and succeeded to updateits measures for neutralization of potential terrorist threats, current pandemic will turn into blessing in disguise. Money laundering & terror financing will no more threat in digitalized post corona world where even the movement of citizens is being monitored.

Last but not least, as a good omen, FATF mustnot only oblige North Korea & Iran by acquitting their names from Black list but also all countries from Grey list. Obviously, this could be done with favor of China, Russia, European Union, Canada, Japan & USA, off course, the giant international player at the moment because Covid-19 has changed the dynamics of world. As luck would have it every single human is afraid of whole humanity and on the other hand, every single human has to come forward to join hands with humanity to fight not only COVID-19 but all the supposed pandemicsbeing imposed upon the world by “visibly invisible forces”that can’t see the humanity “breathing”.

Ayesha Meer

(The writer is student of Law with expertise in Accounting & Finance, independent researcher, Human rights activist, and currently studying Criminology & Security studies at Punjab University).

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