One of the key requirements of the FATF Recommendations is for countries, to identify, assess and understand the money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) risks that they are exposed to. Once these risks are properly understood, countries will be able to implement anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing measures that mitigate these risks.

This approach, the risk-based approach, is central to the effective implementation of the FATF Standards and also applies to financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions.

Many countries have chosen to publish information about the ML/TF risks to their financial system in the form of a national money laundering and terrorist financing risks assessment.  The publication of such a national risk assessment is not a mandatory requirement of the FATF Standards.  However, sharing this information will increase global understanding of ML/TF risk and may help countries identify, assess and understand where their own vulnerabilities lie.

Each country can determine how it will assess these risks, however the FATF has developed guidance which explains the general principles and stages of a risk assessment. 

Regardless of the approach a country has chosen to identify, assess and understand the risk to its financial system, the FATF will assess the extent to which it has been able to do so during its peer reviews.  These reviews are based on the Methodology for assessing technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations and the Effectiveness of AML/CFT Systems and assessors will look closely at a country’s evaluation of its risks during the assessment of Recommendation 1 and Immediate Outcome 1.