• Financial market integrity matters for development. Countries’ financial systems must be transparent, inclusive, and function with integrity to ensure economic development and promote good governance.

    Transnational organized criminal activity, corruption, the illegal trade in natural resources and the laundering of the proceeds of crime generate illicit flows that undermine good governance, financial sector stability, and economic development.

    Addressing illicit and illegal money flows is a key priority of the World Bank Group.

    The cross-border flow of the global proceeds from criminal activities, corruption, and tax evasion are estimated at between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion per year, with roughly half of that sum coming from developing economies. Those assets – if recovered - would make a huge difference for developing countries.

    More than 150 countries have committed to fighting the proceeds of crime and adhere to the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) Recommendations. These countries submitted themselves to review by other countries on the quality of their regimes and to show a commitment to improving transparency and fighting corruption. Countries have also committed themselves to fighting the proceeds of crime through the United Nations Convention against Corruption; the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Drugs Trafficking.

    Why focus on money flows

    • So that criminals don't benefit from their crimes, whether corruption, environmental crime, human trafficking, and other crimes that impede development.
    • To protect the financial sector from abuse and reputational risks that undermine its core functions
    • So that "dirty money" is not recycled into the legitimate economy leading to a criminalized economy
    • It's an innovative approach for addressing development issues of governance, financial inclusion, stolen asset recovery, and illicit financial flows.

    Last Updated: Jun 18, 2015

  • Addressing anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing, including the recovery of stolen assets, are essential to our work. We help countries tackle illicit money flows that stem from organized crime, corruption, and the illegal trade in natural resources by strengthening their financial sector integrity and improving transparency.

    We also work with the FATF and its regional bodies to ensure that Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements support rather than undermine financial inclusion.

    Similarly, in light of the concerns around “derisking,” --  banks terminating  business relationships with entire classes of customers -- we work with global bodies and relevant jurisdictions to ensure that legitimate businesses have access to the global financial and payment systems.

    What We Do

    We provide client countries with tools to increase transparency and strengthen the overall integrity of their financial sector.

    We also assist them in their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) efforts, initiatives on Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), and help countries build capacity and knowledge in these areas.

    We work with groups involved in combating illegal money flows including: financial sector regulators and supervisors, financial intelligence units, law enforcement units, prosecutors, the judiciary, and policymakers. 

    How We Do it?

    Technical Assistance

    We can assist countries throughout the entire process from the design and adoption of an AML/CFT strategy to its implementation by relevant agencies. Through workshops, mentorships, and advisory services, we provide technical assistance to:

    • Develop effective laws, regulations and institutional frameworks
    • Assess the risk of money laundering (ML) and financing of terrorism (FT) on their financial systems
    • Provide training of financial sector supervisors, investigators, prosecutors, and judges on ML and FT cases
    • Design and implement effective asset disclosure systems for public officials
    • Support those involved in investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating cases

    We also disseminate good practices on topics such as new financial products (for example, mobile money), regulations of remittance providers, financial investigation tools, and risk assessments.

    Policy Development

    We develop policies to influence changes at national and global levels, and engage both with client countries and global standard-setters.  We work on a wide range of issues, including the recovery of stolen assets, financial inclusion, environmental crime, remittance, mobile banking, asset disclosure, illicit flows and other issues.


    We work with governments to undertake national risk assessments on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing. The aim of these assessments is to identify money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) in the country and design a strategy and mechanism to mitigate potential vulnerabilities.

    We offer guidance, advisory services and help in undertaking assessments. The process involves the participation of the public and private sector and aims to build a durable mechanism to deal with on-going risks.

    National Risk Assessments are used to determine technical assistance needs and inform our policy development work. This work can be done as stand-alone diagnostics or in the context of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP).

    These assessments have been developed over the past five years as a result of our work with numerous countries on AML/CFT related issues. They reflect recommended good practices and international standards as established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 

    Last Updated: Jun 18, 2015

    • The Bank Group’s technical work on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) helped 65 client countries adopt reforms that have strengthened their AML/CFT regimes. Most of those reforms involved AML/CFT legislation, with more than 50 countries establishing or revising their AML/CFT legal framework to tackle the illicit flow of money.
    • Financial Intelligence Units, which contribute to the initiation of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) investigations, have been established in 24 countries.
    • In the last two years, we've assisted 46 countries in undertaking AML/CFT national risk assessments and helped design a strategy to address potential vulnerabilities. In 2015 we finalized 20 assessments and another 26 were ongoing.
    • We provide rapid response to countries launching efforts to trace and recover stolen assets, such as Sri Lanka in 2014.

    Last Updated: Jan 01, 2016

  • The World Bank Group as a whole has made AML/CTF support for client countries a central part of its financial sector development work.  

    We work closely with the International Monetary Fund on many financial sector programs.

    Globally, we work with the Financial Action Task Force  (FATF) and the FATF-style regional bodies, G20 Countries, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),  the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.



Open Learning Campus

Open Learning Campus: Beneficial Ownership Transparency

Beneficial Ownership Transparency

This learning module addresses the lack of transparency around beneficial ownership of companies, foundations and trusts.