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Turkey likely to remain on gray list for terror financing

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is seen as unlikely to downgrade Turkey's “gray list” status during a meeting of the international standard-setting body that started on Wednesday.

The FATF, which has 36 members and is currently under the presidency of Russia, is holding its plenary session in Paris until Feb. 14.

Turkish sources in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said they do not expect Turkey to be dropped down a level to the “dark gray list.” The dark gray list is composed of countries on the “gray list” for over a year that have not made sufficient progress in implementing their action plans.

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries on the FATF's worst list, the “black list.”

According to its website, the FATF, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is an international body that sets “standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.”

Turkey has long faced pressure from the international community over its lack of action against the financing of terrorism.

Turkey was placed on the gray list, along with Syria, Ethiopia, Cuba and Kenya in February 2012, due to its failure to comply with a UN Security Council resolution on freezing assets owned by individuals affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Turkey had long dragged its feet on supporting the resolution, but gave into international pressure and adopted a law against the financing of terrorism in 2013.

The country also adopted a resolution implementing recommendations of the UN Security Council that was published in the Official Gazette on October 2013. The resolution orders the freezing of the assets of 130 people and four corporations determined to have links to the Taliban and 219 individuals and 63 corporations with ties to al-Qaeda.

“While Turkey could be moved to the dark gray list at the February FATF meeting, it is more likely that it will stay on the gray list another year; this would be a clear sign that Turkey still has a lot work to do to prove that it is a serious partner of the international community in the fight against terror while at the same time recognizing the positive steps it has taken,” Tülin Daloğlu, an Al-Monitor columnist, wrote in January.

Allegations that Turkey helped Saudi businessman Yasin al-Qadi, who is listed by the US Treasury as a “specially designated global terrorist,” to evade United Nations sanctions, may force Turkey to deal with an image as a country that supports terrorism and ignores international law.

“The interesting thing about the al-Qadi issue is that when he was first designated, his front companies were all based in Turkey … and he had quite a bit of operations on Turkish soil,” said Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, who is now vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, according to a report by Business Insider.