Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in Türkiye

AML Country Guide / Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in Türkiye

Türkiye, acutely aware of the risks posed by money laundering, takes proactive measures to counter them. Its strategic geographical location makes it susceptible to financial crimes. Collaborating with international bodies like FATF, the United Nations, and the European Union, Türkiye has implemented stringent AML laws and regulations that align with global standards. This demonstrates Türkiye's commitment to combat financial crimes and maintain the integrity of its financial systems.

History and Legal Framework of AML in Türkiye

Türkiye's journey in addressing money laundering spans decades. The nation's initial foray into combating this financial menace dates back to the late 1990s when it adopted its first legislative measures. Over time, Türkiye has continually refined its legal framework to align with international standards and respond to evolving risks.

The cornerstone of Türkiye's AML efforts is Law No. 5549 on Prevention of Laundering Proceeds of Crime, enacted in 2006. This law, subsequently amended to enhance its effectiveness, outlines the obligations of financial institutions, reporting entities, and supervisory bodies in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Additionally, the Turkish Penal Code contains provisions that criminalize money laundering activities.

The Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) is at the forefront of Türkiye's AML efforts. Established as the central authority to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, MASAK plays a pivotal role in implementing AML regulations, conducting investigations, and sharing intelligence with relevant stakeholders.

Türkiye's engagement with international bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has significantly shaped its AML landscape. By participating in mutual evaluations and adhering to FATF recommendations, Türkiye showcases its dedication to global cooperation against financial crimes.

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Key AML Laws in Türkiye

Türkiye has established a robust legal framework to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Key AML laws include:

  • Law No. 5549 on the Prevention of Laundering Proceeds of Crime: Enacted in 2006, this law forms the cornerstone of Türkiye's AML efforts. It outlines the obligations of financial institutions, reporting entities, and supervisory bodies to prevent and detect money laundering activities.
  • Turkish Penal Code (Law No. 5237): This code includes provisions that criminalize various forms of money laundering. It addresses the legal consequences for individuals engaged in money laundering activities.
  • Banking Law (Law No. 5411): This law sets out regulations for the banking sector, including anti-money laundering provisions. It mandates customer due diligence measures and reporting suspicious transactions to authorities.
  • Law on the Regulation of Payment Services and Electronic Money Institutions (Law No. 6493): This law covers payment services and electronic money institutions, establishing AML obligations for these entities.
  • Capital Markets Law (Law No. 6362): This law encompasses regulations related to capital markets activities and includes provisions for combating money laundering in the securities sector.

Government and Regulatory Role in AML

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury holds a central position in coordinating AML efforts. It oversees the Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), the primary authority responsible for preventing and investigating money laundering and terrorist financing activities. MASAK operates under the direct supervision of the Ministry and is empowered to develop policies, conduct research, and impose sanctions when violations occur.

Additionally, regulatory agencies like the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) and the Capital Markets Board (SPK) play essential roles in supervising financial institutions' compliance with AML regulations in their respective sectors. They ensure that banks, investment firms, and other financial entities adhere to customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, and reporting requirements.

The government's collaboration with international bodies such as the FATF, the United Nations, and the European Union demonstrates Türkiye's commitment to global AML efforts. By participating in mutual evaluations and adhering to international standards, Türkiye enhances its capacity to effectively combat money laundering.

Money Laundering Risks in Türkiye

Türkiye's strategic geographical location and its position as a bridge between Europe and Asia give rise to specific money laundering risks. These risks stem from various factors:

  1. Trade-Based Money Laundering (TBML): Türkiye's role as a major trading hub makes it susceptible to TBML, where illicit funds are concealed within legitimate trade transactions. The complex nature of international trade can make it challenging to detect these activities.
  2. Informal Financial Systems: Informal remittance networks and cash-intensive businesses can be exploited for money laundering. Transactions conducted outside the formal financial sector can evade regulatory scrutiny.
  3. Real Estate Sector: The real estate market's attractiveness for investment presents a risk of using real property to legitimize illicit funds. Transactions involving high-value properties can facilitate money laundering.
  4. Corruption and Political Instability: Instances of corruption and political instability can create an environment conducive to money laundering activities. Corrupt officials and opaque financial dealings may aid in legitimizing illegal funds.
  5. Virtual Currencies and Online Transactions: The increasing use of virtual currencies and online platforms provides opportunities for money laundering. These channels can offer anonymity and complexity that facilitate illicit financial flows.
  6. Cross-Border Movements: Türkiye's proximity to conflict zones and regions with weak AML enforcement can lead to cross-border movement of illicit funds.
  7. Terrorist Financing: The potential for terrorist organizations to exploit Türkiye's position for financing poses a risk. The proximity to conflict zones and refugee flows can complicate tracking such activities.

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