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Israel joins anti-illegal funding body FATF

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By Reuters

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has been accepted as a member of a global inter-governmental body dedicated to combating money laundering and terrorism financing, a step that could help it influence policy against regional foes, the Justice Ministry said on Monday.

The Financial Action Task Force confirmed Israel’s inclusion as its 38th member.

Israel’s arch-foe Iran has been under scrutiny from the Paris-based organisation. Israel has also lobbied world powers to help cut funding for Hezbollah and Hamas, its Lebanese and Palestinian enemies.

Shlomit Wagman-Ratner, head of the Justice Ministry’s anti- money laundering and terrorism financing department, said joining the FATF was a national strategic objective.

It would allow the Israeli financial sector to function more easily in the international economy, she told reporters.

“An additional significant factor is that, for the first time, the State of Israel will be able to take part in setting international rules in the realm of terror financing and money laundering, rules that it is subject to in any event.”

The Paris-based FATF said that Israel had been an observer in the organisation since February 2016 and that its upgrade to membership followed “successful mutual evaluation”.

“During this demanding process, the country demonstrated its commitment to protect the integrity of the financial system,” FATF President Marshall Billingslea said.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Angus MacSwan)