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South Africa Added to FATF ‘Grey List’ Despite Designation of Crypto as a Financial Product

In a move seen as a major setback for South Africa, the international financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, announced on Feb. 24 that it had added the country to its “grey list.” Getting grey-listed by the financial watchdog potentially makes it difficult for South Africa to obtain loans from foreign banks.

A Setback for South Africa

The global financial crimes watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has added South Africa to its grey list, which is a group of countries that are “committed to resolving swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes.” According to one report, the inclusion of South Africa in the FATF’s so-called grey list is a major reputational setback for the country which has been eager to avoid being added to the list.

As reported by News, a South African financial industry regulator designated crypto as a financial product after the FATF reportedly voiced its concerns over the lack of regulation of such assets. At the time, some commentators suggested that this move would help South Africa avoid getting grey-listed.

However, in its Feb. 24 statement, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) seemingly acknowledged that the country has not done enough to avoid getting grey-listed. The bank nevertheless vowed to “strengthen its supervision and further enhance the dissuasiveness and proportionality of administrative sanctions issued.”

Potential Impact on Flow of Capital

The SARB added that banks and other financial institutions also have a role to play in resolving the deficiencies identified by the FATF.

“The SARB expects banks and other financial institutions within its purview to comply fully with all their obligations and applies a high standard of supervision that is necessary to safeguard and protect the integrity of the financial system. These actions, when coupled with measures and actions undertaken by law enforcement and other authorities within South Africa, serve to achieve an effective AML/CFT/CPF system,” the central bank said.

According to a Reuters report, being on the FATF’s grey list could potentially make it hard for South Africa to secure loans from foreign banks perturbed by the watchdog’s move. The report also quotes an International Monetary Fund document from 2021 which suggested that countries on this list will sometimes see the flow of capital into their respective economies getting disrupted.

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