Recommendation 26: Regulation and supervision of financial institutions

Countries should ensure that financial institutions are subject to adequate regulation and supervision and are effectively implementing the FATF Recommendations. Competent authorities or financial supervisors should take the necessary legal or regulatory measures to prevent criminals or their associates from holding, or being the beneficial owner of, a significant or controlling interest, or holding a management function in, a financial institution. Countries should not approve the establishment, or continued operation, of shell banks.

For financial institutions subject to the Core Principles, the regulatory and supervisory measures that apply for prudential purposes, and which are also relevant to money laundering and terrorist financing, should apply in a similar manner for AML/CFT purposes. This should include applying consolidated group supervision for AML/CFT purposes.

Other financial institutions should be licensed or registered and adequately regulated, and subject to supervision or monitoring for AML/CFT purposes, having regard to the risk of money laundering or terrorist financing in that sector. At a minimum, where financial institutions provide a service of money or value transfer, or of money or currency changing, they should be licensed or registered, and subject to effective systems for monitoring and ensuring compliance with national AML/CFT requirements.


Risk-based approach to Supervision

1. Risk-based approach to supervision refers to: (a) the general process by which a supervisor, according to its understanding of risks, allocates its resources to AML/CFT supervision; and (b) the specific process of supervising institutions that apply an AML/CFT risk-based approach.

2. Adopting a risk-based approach to supervising financial institutions’ AML/CFT systems and controls allows supervisory authorities to shift resources to those areas that are perceived to present higher risk. As a result, supervisory authorities can use their resources more effectively. This means that supervisors: (a) should have a clear understanding of the money laundering and terrorist financing risks present in a country; and (b) should have on-site and off-site access to all relevant information on the specific domestic and international risks associated with customers, products and services of the supervised institutions, including the quality of the compliance function of the financial institution or group (or groups, when applicable for Core Principles institutions). The frequency and intensity of on-site and off-site AML/CFT supervision of financial institutions/groups should be based on the money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and the policies, internal controls and procedures associated with the institution/group, as identified by the supervisor’s assessment of the institution/group’s risk profile, and on the money laundering and terrorist financing risks present in the country.

3. The assessment of the money laundering and terrorist financing risk profile of a financial institution/group, including the risks of non-compliance, should be reviewed both periodically and when there are major events or developments in the management and operations of the financial institution/group, in accordance with the country’s established practices for ongoing supervision. This assessment should not be static: it will change depending on how circumstances develop and how threats evolve.

4. AML/CFT supervision of financial institutions/groups that apply a risk-based approach should take into account the degree of discretion allowed under the RBA to the financial institution/group, and encompass, in an appropriate manner, a review of the risk assessments underlying this discretion, and of the adequacy and implementation of its policies, internal controls and procedures.

5. These principles should apply to all financial institutions/groups. To ensure effective AML/CFT supervision, supervisors should take into consideration the characteristics of the financial institutions/groups, in particular the diversity and number of financial institutions, and the degree of discretion allowed to them under the RBA.

Resources of supervisors

6. Countries should ensure that financial supervisors have adequate financial, human and technical resources. These supervisors should have sufficient operational independence and autonomy to ensure freedom from undue influence or interference. Countries should have in place processes to ensure that the staff of these authorities maintain high professional standards, including standards concerning confidentiality, and should be of high integrity and be appropriately skilled.