Untold Truth about Anti-Money Laundering in Turkey

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.1.02 (Tower One)
Umut Turksen, University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom
In Turkey, the recognition of money laundering as a crime and the subsequent anti money laundering legislation date back to 1980s. Besides being a national socio-economic concern, combating money laundering effectively has a particular importance in Turkey’s objective as a candidate country for EU accession. History also reveals that Turkey has consistently supported anti-money laundering initiatives at international level. For instance, Turkey is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units as wells as the Financial Action Task Force which was established in 1989 by the G-7 countries and now has 32 member states along with two regional/international organisations as members. The Vienna Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988, the United Nations Agreement Against Organized Crimes Across the Border (Palermo Convention) 2000 and the European Council Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime 1990 were also ratified by Turkey on 21 September 1990, 26 February 2003 and 6 June 2004, respectively.

Moreover, Turkey is a signatory to several bilateral anti-money laundering treaties established with countries such as Germany, Greece, Afghanistan, Syria, Romania, Georgia, Albania and Italy. Turkey also cooperates with other countries in combating money laundering effectively.

The FATF reports conducted in 1994, 1998 and 2006 evidence that Turkey has continually endeavored to improve its anti-money laundering provisions and followed the recommendations made by the FATF. In February 2009, FATF’s progression report indicated that as a result of the enhanced AML regime, Turkey has been taken off the list of countries under the ‘enhanced follow-up’ procedure.

Against this background, it may be expected that Turkey has an effective anti-money laundering regime. However, the reality can be further than the truth. The lack of both rule of law and successful convictions coupled with political interference in the judiciary paint a different picture about money laundering regime in Turkey. Given the record slide in the Perceived Corruption Index from 53rd in 2013 to 64th place in 2014, there are serious questions that must be asked about Turkey’s AML commitments. This paper provides a critical analysis of the AML framework in Turkey and identifies inherent and current problems therein.