Anti-Money Laundering Regulations Financial Organizations Should Know (and Follow!)

January 12, 2023

To meet compliance obligations in the complex environment of anti-money laundering (AML), it’s essential financial institutions keep up with the changes in the global landscape.

No matter where you are doing business, the AML compliance process means dealing with the regulators of the financial industry and understanding the laws and regulations that apply at the national and international levels.

To help you stay compliant, we cover the most important AML compliance regulations worldwide, as well as the organizations that enforce those regulations.

If you want to jump directly to the region you are concerned about, click one of the links below to learn about the specific regulations in that area:

United States (US) Canada United Kingdom (UK) European Union (EU)
Australia Mexico Brazil South America
Nigeria Africa Asia  

If you’re ready to jump in with all the information you need to know, we will begin by looking at the main compliance regulations in different regions. We'll also discuss ways to stay compliant in your financial organization.

New call-to-action

What are AML Regulations?

AML regulations are a set of guidelines that govern the responsibilities of financial institutions when it comes to anti-money laundering procedures. They set out obligations for FIs to follow for combating financial crime and terrorism financing.

AML regulations are specific to different jurisdictions, but they generally employ similar regulations for FIs to follow.

Compliance with anti-money laundering laws involves screening potential customers' backgrounds and monitoring them on an ongoing basis in order to detect and prevent money laundering.

As a part of the screening process, customers' names are checked on global watchlists, sanction lists, and PEP lists. In some industries, such as the banking industry, Fintech, the stock market, the real estate industry, art and precious metals, cryptocurrency dealers, and gaming platforms, AML screening is a mandatory part of KYC verification.

Why AML Regulations are Important

Besides the fact that AML regulations are required by law, they help keep organizations safe from money laundering efforts. Failing to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations results in fines and penalties, which can be rather hefty. Depending on the extent of the violation, they can even result in criminal charges.

Since AML regulations are implemented and enforced by governments, organizations can be subject to various regulations depending on the jurisdiction they are operating in. Each country imposes its own regulations to follow, and each of these countries is constantly updating its own rules, so it can be quite a daunting task to stay abreast of all applicable regulations.

Regulations are intended to keep pace with the volume and variety of threats facing the industry, as such, it’s critical for organizations to stay on top of current regulations.

Universal Anti-Money Laundering Standards: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

There are no universal laws and regulations for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. Countries and jurisdictions are responsible for enacting and enforcing their own laws, legislation, and regulations.

With no clear international standards, it’s difficult for various nations and jurisdictions to work together to prevent money laundering efforts. Fortunately, several nations have worked together, attempting to provide universal standards for establishing anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policies, laws, and regulations.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an international money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog that was established to prevent these financial crimes. While they don’t actually enact laws that nations are responsible to follow, they establish best practices to help nations develop their own policies, legislation, and regulations that help countries establish adequate AML and counter-terrorism financing policies and procedures.

The FATF was established in 1989 through a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris, and is sometimes referred to by its French name: Groupe d'action financière (GAFI).

Its mandate was expanded in 2001 to include terrorist funding. While member nations aren’t technically bound to any legal requirements, FATF members participate in the agreement in an attempt to set international standards for AML regulations.

Ultimately, the FATF helps member nations establish adequate AML and counter-terrorism financing laws, regulations, and policies to ensure they adequately protect against these threats. This also makes it easier for member nations to assess international transactions and perform adequate due diligence.

While the FATF helps set universal standards for addressing AML and counter-terrorism financing, each nation and jurisdiction sets its own laws and rules. They have their own specific regulations and regulatory bodies, which we’ll dig into below.

AML Regulations Around the World

Different jurisdictions have their own laws—and regulations. Organizations operating in different regions need to be apprised of the regulations that apply to them and ensure they follow them properly.

Generally, these laws provide consumer protection and outline how regulatory and supervisory activities will be carried out. Different regulatory bodies then regulate specific legal areas.

In this section, we’ll focus specifically on the different financial services regulators and regulations applicable to financial institutions based on the country or region in which FIs are operating.

To help you ensure you’re following all applicable AML regulations, we break them down by region below. If you’re interested in a particular region, jump to it here:

United States (US) Canada United Kingdom (UK) European Union (EU)
Australia Mexico Brazil South America
Nigeria Africa Asia  

AML Regulations in the United States (US)

As one of the largest growing Fintech markets, the United States has had to keep pace with regulating the Financial Organizations. New regulations are in place, as well as traditional financial services regulations, which are now applicable.

Main AML Regulators in the United States (US)

In some cases, Financial Organizations are quasi-regulated by the traditional banking system, as they work so closely with each other.

Below, we cover the main regulators responsible for managing the Fintech market in the United States:



Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)

Investigates and analyzes financial transactions in order to combat money laundering and terrorist financing on a national and international scale.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

An independent, private company in the United States that acts as a self-regulating organization (SRO) for the financial services industry, which regulates the exchange markets and brokerage firms that are members.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

A financial agency operating under the U.S. Treasury Department, responsible for administering, managing, and enforcing economic and trade sanctions in the interest of national security.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

A government agency that enforces civil antitrust laws and consumer protection laws in the United States, ensuring that consumers are protected from unfair trade practices.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

An agency within the U.S. government that protects consumers in the financial sector. Other financial businesses such as banks, credit unions, security firms, and lenders are also supervised by them.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

An independent government agency responsible for enforcing laws against market manipulation on exchanges to regulate the financial market.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

A government agency responsible for regulating derivative markets, such as futures, swaps, and options.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

As an independent bureau of the Treasury Department, it regulates, supervises, and charters national banks and other financial institutions while collaborating with foreign banks operating in the country.

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

A government-sponsored institution that insures deposit accounts and regulates and supervises federal credit unions.

State legislatures / legislations

Financial operations in states are often subject to unique regulations. Ensure you comply with all safety and compliance regulations applicable to your operations, including those specific to your region.

Following your knowledge of which regulatory bodies to contact, let's look at some of the most common regulations, acts, or directives that apply to Fintech companies.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in the United States (US)

Below, we cover the top regulations FIs should be aware of in the United States:

  • Bank Secrecy Act (BSA): Known also as the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, the BSA was passed into law in 1970. This law requires financial institutions in the United States to assist U.S. government agencies in detecting and preventing money laundering crimes in the United States.


  • Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA): Under this act, the Treasury Department is required to develop policies and regulations that are designed to protect against the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism. It stipulates that all financial organizations are required to create and adhere to AML compliance programs that are risk-based.


  • USA PATRIOT Act: One of the most commonly known laws in the world is the Patriot Act, and it had been put into place as a reaction to the terror attacks of September 11th, with the objective of tightening and strengthening national security through an enhanced monitoring of foreign terrorism. The goal of Fintech compliance is to monitor and prevent terrorism financing.

  • Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA): Developed in 1978, this act defines what consumers are entitled to and responsible for when funds are transferred electronically, including control of ATM and debit card use, as well as automatic bank withdrawals.

  • Red Flag Rule: Developed by the FTC and NCUA, it aims to prevent identity theft in the financial industry, improve credit information access for consumers, and educate consumers about financial matters.

  • Truth in Savings Act (TISA): It mandates financial institutions to disclose terms and conditions about savings account interest rates and fees under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991—ensuring that consumers are informed about all costs.

  • Truth in Lending Act (TILA): The law promotes consumer education regarding credit usage, ensuring consumers are well informed about the costs associated with borrowing and using credit.

  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): Since 1970, this law has been ensuring accuracy, fairness, and privacy in the reporting of consumer information, protecting consumers from unfairly affecting their credit scores.

  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA): Established in 1974, it prohibits discrimination against potential credit applicants based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, or age.


  • Securities Act of 1933: This law is also known as the Truth in Securities Act or the Federal Securities Act, and is designed to ensure that investors are informed about securities on the market before purchasing them, and to protect consumers against loss from fraud.


  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA): Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, and it is a repeal of a part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. GLBA paved the way for commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to merge.

AML Regulations in Canada

The threat of money laundering to Canada's financial system and security is significant. There are many aspects to money laundering, including its complexity and confidentiality. Throughout the history of Canada's anti-money laundering regimes, it has been committed to preventing financial crimes.

Main AML Regulators in Canada (CAD)

In the fight against money laundering, several organizations have been established in Canada. These organizations are centered around FINTRAC, which is the federal agency responsible for analyzing financial transactions and reports.



Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)

FINTRAC is Canada's national financial intelligence agency. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act established this agency in 2000 to investigate and identify financial crimes. It is an independent agency that reports to the Canadian Ministry of Finance.

At the federal level, FINTRAC assesses compliance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and enforces it.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in Canada (CAD)

In terms of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing legislation, Canada has two main statutes that govern this matter:

  • Criminal Code: All individuals and businesses are subject to the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code criminalizes knowingly dealing with property or providing or facilitating financial or related services for terrorist activities, terrorist groups, or “listed persons” (i.e., a person or entity listed by the government or another organization).

AML Regulations in the United Kingdom (UK)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are the two main regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom for risk and compliance operations. This section covers those two major authorities, as well as several sub-branches, each of which focuses on a specific task.

Main AML Regulators in the United Kingdom (UK)

Below, we cover the main regulators responsible for regulating the financial organizations in the United Kingdom:



Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

With jurisdiction over banks, building societies, credit unions, and other financial services firms, the Financial Conduct Authority is the UK's main financial services regulator. As a law enforcement agency, the FCA is responsible for enforcing money laundering and terrorism financing laws in the UK and investigating offenses, like laundering and financing of terrorism in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

Together with the FCA, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs investigates money laundering offenses. It is the HMRC's responsibility to issue guidelines on anti-money laundering in the UK, providing information on customer due diligence and transaction monitoring requirements, as well as the need to issue a policy statement on anti-money laundering.

Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)

As a financial services regulator, it is responsible for regulating and supervising banks, credit unions, investment firms, insurers, and other institutions in the financial sector.

Payment Systems Regulator (PSR)

This regulatory body, created by the FCA, is responsible for promoting innovation and competition in payment systems and is bound to serve the interests of organizations and users.

The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA)

A group of member firms that promotes consumer well-being in the UK by regulating member firms and standardizing regulations.

Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG)

In conjunction with UK anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) laws, this private organization provides guidance regarding how to comply with regulatory obligations in the financial sector.

These are the main bodies that monitor Fintech regulatory compliance in the United Kingdom, along with some of the most closely related groups.


Main AML Regulations to Follow in the United Kingdom (UK)

Below, we outline the main regulations that apply to risk and compliance professionals in the UK:

  • Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA): Designed to improve financial industry regulation, this act created the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the predecessor to the PRA and FCA. Instead of going to court, it resolves disagreements for free.

  • Final Guidance on Cryptoassets: The Guidance is intended to assist firms in determining whether their crypto asset activity is subject to FCA regulation and, in particular, which types of tokens need to be regulated (and how).

AML Regulations in the European Union (EU)

With so many member states, it can be difficult for the European Union to manage AML and fraud laws so that they work effectively across national borders. In order to manage this effectively, financial services are regulated by a few centralized organizations.

Listed below are the main financial regulatory bodies in the EU that oversee compliance and risk management:

Main AML Regulators in the European Union (EU)

Below, we cover the main regulators responsible for regulating the financial organizations in the European Union:



European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)

It oversees European financial markets and supervises securities legislation and regulation, strengthens investor protection, works with national authorities, and facilitates cross-border cooperation.

Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA)

It supervises financial institutions and sets standards for preventing money laundering as part of its responsibilities as a central EU authority.

European Central Bank (ECB)

As an integral part of the European Union, the European Central Bank is responsible for setting monetary policy for the whole of the EU, managing foreign exchange reserves for member states, and setting interest rates and monetary objectives for the entire EU.

European Banking Authority (EBA)

Its mission is to identify weaknesses in the European financial system and ensure transparency through conducting stress tests on banks.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in the European Union (EU)

‍Below, we cover the most important regulations in the EU that apply to AML compliance efforts.


  • EU Anti-Money Laundering Directives (AMLDs): These directives are periodically updated, and are currently in their sixth iteration (6 AMLD). They include regulations that governments must follow, ensuring the EU follows adequate AML guidelines. As a result of the 5th Directive, cryptocurrency regulation has undergone significant updates, and in the 6th Directive, both regulatory scope and criminal liability have been expanded.

  • Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2): Essentially, PSD2 is the successor to the original Payment Services Directive (PSD) and aims to increase competition, improve consumer protections, and expand the availability of payment services to individuals and businesses alike.

AML Regulations in Australia

A diverse community of FinTech providers operates in Australia, which has one of the largest economies in Asia Pacific. As part of its commitment to protecting its diverse financial system, Australia enacted a number of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, which include strict penalties for firms that don't comply.

Main AML Regulators in Australia

As a part of its anti-money laundering control program, Australia is setting up regulators to detect and stop money laundering activities.



Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)

AUSTRAC is the Australian Government agency responsible for detecting, deterring, and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system to protect the community from financial crime.

AML/CFT laws in Australia are continually evolving, requiring firms to understand how their risk exposure might change as a result.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in Australia

Laws and regulations in Australia outline a firm's key obligations, including what is required in its AML/CTF program.

  • Financial Transaction Reports Act (FTR Act): This legislation also pertains to AUSTRAC. Despite the AML/CTF Act replacing the FTR Act in most areas, some businesses, such as motor vehicle dealers who act as insurers and insurance intermediaries, still fall under the FTR Act.

  • The AML/CTF (Prescribed Foreign Countries) Regulations 2018: In accordance with the Regulations, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) continue to be declared to be prescribed foreign countries for the purposes of the Act.  Also included in the Regulations is a repeal of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (Prescribed Foreign Countries) Regulation 2016, which is due to come to an end on 1 April 2018.

AML Regulations in Mexico

Since 2000, Mexico has been an active member of the Financial Action Task Force, which is responsible for establishing international standards to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The Mexican State has taken a variety of measures to protect the national economy and financial system since then.

Main AML Regulators in Mexico

AML programs are being implemented by the Government of Mexico (GOM) as part of its efforts to combat money laundering by establishing regulators.



Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV)

All banks, as well as other financial institutions, are required to adhere to AML & CFT regulations by CNBV. By preventing financial crimes, CNBV strives to safeguard the financial system.

Procuraduría General de la República (PGR)

In Mexico, the PGR is the office of the Attorney General of the country. PGR's duties include investigating and prosecuting money laundering and terrorism financing cases on behalf of the government.

Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (UIF)

UIF is Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit. Money laundering risks are collected by the Mexican Financial Intelligence Unit and escalated on a case-by-case basis. When it detects an illegal transaction, the Financial Intelligence Unit initiates legal action.

Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP)

The official finance ministry of Mexico, the SHCP is responsible for overseeing and regulating compliance related to AML and CTF laws.


Main AML Regulations to Follow in Mexico

On Oct. 17, 2012, Mexico enacted its anti-money laundering law (which came into force on July 17, 2013) in response to directives from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and European Union. Compliance and risk professionals should be familiar with and adhere to the following Mexico regulations:

AML Regulations in Brazil

In accordance with FATF standards, Brazil has worked relentlessly to minimize money laundering. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations have been strengthened by the Brazilian government in order to achieve these goals.

Main AML Regulators in Brazil

A significant portion of Brazilian money laundering seems to be associated with domestic crime, such as the smuggling of contraband goods, corruption, drug trafficking, and organized crime, which generates funds for laundering through banks, real estate, or financial asset markets.

In response to this, the Brazilian Government (GOB) has developed a comprehensive regulatory framework for Anti-Money Laundering (AML).



The Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF)

As the Financial Intelligence Unit operating in Brazil, the COAF has been operating since 2020. It is only administratively affiliated with the Central Bank but acts independently. It assesses financial transactions for potential money laundering threats and escalates cases to the appropriate enforcement agencies.

The Central Bank of Brazil

As the country's principal monetary authority, Brazil's Central Bank oversees monetary policy. It is the Central Bank's responsibility to ensure that national financial institutions comply with AML regulations.


Main AML Regulations to Follow in Brazil

The Brazilian anti-money laundering regulations are continuously being updated, so it's important for companies operating there to stay updated. Because of this, we’ve prepared a guide to help you comply with Brazil's anti-money laundering laws.

  • Brazilian Central Bank Circular 3,798/20: The Circular stresses the importance of financial institutions implementing policies to prevent the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism. Many guidelines have been developed to establish rules for identifying and verifying customers and establishing a risk-based approach whereby financial institutions must conduct checks according to the specific risks associated with their customers, transactions, operations, products, and services. A proper internal risk assessment of customers and operations should therefore be conducted by companies, according to the Circular.

  • Law 9,613/98: In 1998, law 9,613/98 was enacted. It outlined regulations regarding AML that must be followed by entities, as well as steps they should take to comply. As part of the law, there is also a description of how the identification, reporting, and record-keeping processes are to be administered. A Council for Financial Activities Control (COAF) was also established to monitor regulated entities' activities.

  • Law 12,683/12: In response to earlier recommendations from the FATF, Law 12,683/12 was enacted in 2012. Money laundering activities were tightened by Law 12,683/12, amending Law 9,613/98. A list of specific criminal activities that fall under the category of money laundering was also revoked, broadening the scope of money laundering activities.

AML Regulations in South America

The regulatory environment in South America is transforming into one that is more controlled and tightened. The government intends to enact a law requiring non-financial sectors to comply with anti-money laundering laws as well, broadening the scope of AML protections.

Emerging economies are prevalent in many Latin American countries. As a result, there aren't as many regulations and government oversights as in other countries. To better combat financial crimes, larger and more developed economies such as Brazil have implemented successful laws and regulations. Nevertheless, countries with smaller, less developed economies, such as Bolivia, have inadequate laws and regulations for dealing with financial crimes.

Main AML Regulators in South America

To combat money laundering, South American countries are establishing regulators as part of AML programs.



The Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT)

Established to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, money laundering, and terrorist financing, the GAFILAT has 17 member countries in South, Central, and North America. In addition to supporting members to implement the recommendations into national law, the group is the regional division of the FATF.

Financial Information Unit (Unidad de Informacion Financiera (UIF)) 


UIF is Argentina's governmental body charged with analyzing, treating, and transmitting information pertaining to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. It is part of the National Department of Finance.

Financial Services Regulatory Commission (FSRC) 

(Antigua and Barbuda)

Created in 2002 as a result of a 2002 amendment, the FSRC regulates businesses governed by the Financial Institutions Non-Banking Act, the Cooperative Societies Act, and the Insurance Act.

Central Bank of The Bahamas 


Banks and trust companies operating in the Bahamas are regulated, licensed, and supervised by the Central Bank of The Bahamas under the Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act, 2000. This includes AML regulations.

Office of the Attorney General of Colombia


In Colombia, the Office of the Attorney General of the country is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving money laundering.

Chilean Financial Intelligence Unit (Unidad de Análisis Financiero – “UAF”)


It is the UAF's duty to request, receive, analyze, and forward suspicious financial activity to the competent criminal prosecution authorities. In terms of preventing and investigating terrorism financing, it does not have any jurisdiction.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in South America

Although every country’s context is unique, there are shared challenges throughout the region. While many countries in the region have improved their AML laws in recent years, implementation remains patchy. Regulatory authorities are often under-resourced, and political will varies between countries.

  • The Money Laundering Prevention Act of 1996 (Antigua and Barbuda): This law, passed in July 1996, called on FIs to adopt adequate KYC procedures. It forces FIs to monitor, report, and escalate suspicious activity and transactions. The MLPA then escalates cases to the FIU for investigation.

  • Law 26.683 (Argentina): Argentina passed Law 26.683 in June 2011 due to its FATF evaluation in 2010. Among the goals of this law was to provide AML with a separate criminal status in the Argentine Criminal Code. Additionally, law 26.683 made UIF an independent institution and confirmed its supervisory, inspection, and sanctioning powers. Additionally, the law extended the reporting period for suspicious transactions from 30 to 150 days and expanded the list of businesses that must comply with AML legislation in Argentina.

  • Proceeds of Crime Act (Bahamas): It is under this act that it becomes illegal in the Bahamas to launder, search, seize, and confiscate money obtained from crime. Business and individual money laundering transactions that are suspicious must be reported to the authorities. Additionally, money obtained from criminal activity can be confiscated.

  • Law n. 1121 of 2006, Art. 27 (Colombia): A company must carry out a full identification of all natural and legal entities who enter into a contract for a business relationship, as well as the origin of the funds that they use to conduct a business.

  • Law No. 19,913 (Chile):  This is Chile's primary legislation that addresses money laundering (the "AML Act"). It is an offense under the AML Act to conceal or disguise, in any fashion, the illegal origin of certain goods, knowing that they are related directly or indirectly to certain criminal offenses listed in a closed list of criminal provisions.

AML Regulations in Nigeria

The Nigerian government is working towards improving its anti-money laundering framework and laws as part of its commitment to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.

Main AML Regulators in Nigeria

Nigeria is establishing regulators to fight money laundering by implementing AML programs.



Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)

The EFCC investigates money laundering and advance fee fraud as part of its financial crimes investigations.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

By the CBN Act of 1958, the Central Bank of Nigeria was established as Nigeria's central bank and primary monetary authority. The CBN regulates Anti-Money Laundering issues and supervisory frameworks for different industries in Nigeria.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there have been efforts to increase the scope of the existing Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Terrorism Financing (AML/CFT) regulations by including non-financial institutions within the scope of the regulations. The government of Nigeria recognizes that lawyers and accountants have significant financial activities, especially those who move money on behalf of their clients, and are making efforts to ensure financial protections are in place.

  • The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022: It replaced the Money Laundering (Prohibition and Prevention) Act, No. 11 of 2011, which prohibits money laundering. This law contains elaborate provisions regarding the legal and institutional framework for preventing and prohibiting money laundering in Nigeria.

AML Regulations in Africa

African countries are making commitments on a political level to support AML initiatives in their countries. Several countries in Africa are working together with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering regime they have in place.

Main AML Regulators in Africa

Below, we cover the top regulatory bodies responsible for supervising and regulating the financial sector.



Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC)

(South Africa)

AML efforts in South Africa are primarily coordinated by this institution, which was established in 2001. By enforcing recordkeeping and reporting procedures of South African financial institutions, the FIC establishes an AML regime and ensures the integrity of the South African financial system.

Financial Reporting Centre (FRC)


The FRC's main objective is to determine the proceeds of crime, combat money laundering, and assist in identifying the proceeds of crime.

Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC)


Born out of the AML Act, 2008 (Act 749), the FIC is the body responsible for receiving and analyzing suspicious transaction reports.

Financial Intelligence Agency


Several law enforcement agencies and supervisory authorities request, receive, analyze, and disseminate information about financial disclosures pertaining to suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Agency.

Money laundering is one of the largest challenges African states face regularly. It is for this reason that it is absolutely appropriate to explore AML issues and strategies with regard to all African states, as they are all relevant to one another.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in Africa

There are shared challenges across the region, despite the differences in country contexts. Most countries in the region have still not modernized their anti-money laundering laws in recent years, while others have implemented them in fragmented ways.

  • FIC Amendment Act (No. 11 of 2008) (South Africa): The act was issued in August 2008 and took effect in 2010, and clarified the roles and responsibilities of supervisory bodies. By imposing certain duties on institutions and other persons that may be involved in money laundering or financing terrorist activities, the act combats money laundering and terrorist financing.

  • Proceeds of Crime and Ant-Money Laundering Act (POCAMLA) (Kenya): An amendment to the existing act was made in 2009, and the act was renamed the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act (POCAMLA). There is no other piece of AML legislation in Kenya that is as comprehensive as the AML Act.

  • Anti-Money Laundering Act 2020 (Act 1044) (Ghana): This is an act that makes Ghana adhere to international standards and addresses the deficiencies of the old AML Act 2008 (Act 749) with regard to tackling money laundering. Money laundering activities are expanded by Act 1044, accountable institutions are overseen more strictly, and punishment for such activities is harsh.

  • Proceeds And Instruments Of Crime (Act 8 of 2018) (Botswana): A law enforcing the deprivation of benefits and rewards for persons convicted of certain crimes. In addition, the act addresses issues such as money laundering, racketeering, and other related and incidental matters, such as the deprivation of property suspected of serving as proceeds or instruments of crime.

AML Regulations in Asia

Asian countries have been cracking down on money laundering in recent years.

During 2020, authorities in the Asia-Pacific region imposed fines totaling $5.1 billion for violations of AML laws and related misconduct, an increase of more than seven times the fines issued in 2019. For the first time since 2015, the United States has been ranked second in terms of AML enforcement penalties.

Main AML Regulators in Asia

There are a number of different AML regulators across Asian countries, helping implement and enforce anti-money laundering policies.



Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU)

(South Korea)

As the primary governmental agency responsible for AML/CFT compliance and enforcement in South Korea, the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit ("KoFIU") was established under the Financial Services Commission ("FSC").

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)


It is the MAS' responsibility to conduct investigations involving allegations of money laundering claimed to have taken place in the country's financial institutions.

Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing Commission (AMLC)


This agency is the main law enforcement organization engaged in combating money laundering and terrorist funding in the Philippines, as well as the administrator and manager of the Philippines' AML/CTF program.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)

(Hong Kong)

By supervising the risk management systems of authorized institutions (AIs), the HKMA ensures that they follow international standards and practices to combat money laundering and terrorism financing while taking into consideration the risks the banking sector and individual AIs face.

Main AML Regulations to Follow in Asia

There have been several Asian jurisdictions that have been criticized by the FATF for failing to investigate and take action against those believed to have violated anti-money laundering laws. Asia's governments have stepped up enforcement efforts by strengthening AML regulators and law enforcement agencies.

Below are some of the main regulations in Asian countries:

How to Comply with AML Regulations

While there are no universal AML regulations, each jurisdiction has regulations that financial institutions need to follow. It’s important that financial institutions (FIs) are aware of the regulations that need to be followed to ensure AML compliance.

There are different AML requirements in each jurisdiction, and we won't include prescriptive rules for each. Instead, this section will look at best practices that are universally applicable.

CFT/AML regulations require banks and financial institutions to use risk-based approaches and implement compliance measures that include the following:

1. Establish an AML Program

It is an organization's responsibility to develop and implement an AML/CFT program that matches the risks associated with the customer base and business sector they operate in. A written policy and procedure program that outlines the firm's approach to the additional steps outlined in this chapter is essential.


2. Identification of Customer (KYC Process)

A KYC process ensures that only legitimate individuals and organizations are transacted with by companies. Verifying your customers' identities, assessing their risk levels, and determining the nature of your business relationship are all part of the KYC process.

It's essential to remember that KYC is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. It is important to review and update KYC information periodically to ensure accuracy.

3. Keep Accurate Records and Reports

Companies are required to maintain detailed records about their customers and report certain transactions and financial activities to the FIUs in accordance with applicable regulations.

The minimum period of time after the termination of a business relationship with a customer for maintaining customer data varies across jurisdictions.

For example, under some jurisdictions, the period is five years, while in others, it is seven years.

4. Hire a Competent Compliance Officer (or Service)

Who is in charge of the program?

It is necessary to designate one person as the system owner so that they are responsible for following processes, updating reports, ensuring training is correct, and ensuring that the system functions smoothly.

In addition to reputational risk, a lot is at stake when the program succeeds. Therefore, a senior-level representative with the power to influence the company is ideal.

5. Training Employees 

You must ensure that each employee who deals with customers or transactions understands your company's policies and procedures. Legal requirements must be well understood, as well as the techniques used by money launderers. Checks should be conducted, and suspicious activities should be reported to the authorities.

The importance of training cannot be overstated. Maintain the program's quality by offering refresher programs for staff to ensure they are up-to-date.

Even though the five methods above are ideal for laying the foundation for your compliance program, professional compliance officers do something to ensure that dishonest customers do not gain access to the business.

KYC onboardings are reviewed by Compliance Officers periodically to confirm that onboarded customers are who they claim to be and to review their transactional history to identify fraudulent patterns.


Taking advantage of digital AML solutions can go a long way toward saving time and simplifying the various steps involved in achieving AML compliance. Whether you're looking to onboard customers worldwide or monitor their transactional behavior, Unit21 will provide a frictionless and customized experience while detecting any signs of suspicious activity during the onboarding process.

Despite no universal rules, there are a number of general guidelines that help organizations stay compliant regardless of where they’re operating. It’s critical to establish an AML compliance program, perform KYC procedures, keep accurate records, hire a competent compliance officer, and adequately train employees.

Download Operating System Product Guide

The Consequences of Not Following Regulations

Our deep dive into AML regulations around the world demonstrates just how difficult it is to follow the hundreds of regulations that exist around the world—some of which overlap but differ slightly, some of which only apply in certain regions or circumstances, and some of which change on a regular basis.

RegTechs like Unit21 make it possible to monitor this constantly changing environment to avoid the consequences of not following regulations, which we cover in the next chapter of our guide, with AML penalties, fines, and sanctions.

But if you’re still getting acquainted with how to deal with money laundering within your financial platform, take a look back at our chapter on How to Combat Money Laundering.

Check out this short video to see if Unit21 is the right fit for your AML compliance operations.

Subscribe to our Blog!

Please fill out the form below:

Related Articles

Getting started is easy

See first-hand how Unit21
can help bolster your risk & compliance operations