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Financial crime watchdog FATF suspends Russia over Ukraine war

The logo of the FATF (the Financial Action Task Force) is seen during a news conference after a plenary session at the OECD Headquarters in Paris

By Tassilo Hummel and Ingrid Melander

PARIS (Reuters) -Global financial crime watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia's membership on Friday, saying Moscow's war in Ukraine violated the organisation's principles.

FATF is an inter-governmental organisation set up to combat money laundering and terrorism financing by setting global standards and checking if countries respect them.

"This is the first time a member of FATF is suspended," FATF President Raja Kumar told a news conference. "Russia is effectively sidelined from the organisation."

Ukraine, which has made repeated calls to exclude Russia from the organisation, welcomed the decision to suspend Russia but added that it would continue its push with FATF members to go further and get Russia blacklisted.

"It's not enough but it's an important step in the right direction," Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the United States, denounced the decision as "a dangerous step", saying it would erode global efforts to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, state news agency Tass reported.

Although suspended, Russia remains a FATF member. The main consequences of Friday's decision will be that Russia will be barred from attending meetings and accessing documents, FATF said.

"The Russian Federation remains accountable for its obligation to implement the FATF Standards. The Russian Federation must continue to meet its financial obligations," the FATF said.

"The Russian Federation's actions unacceptably run counter to the FATF core principles aiming to promote security, safety, and the integrity of the global financial system", the Paris-based group said in a statement.

FATF on Friday also added South Africa and Nigeria to its "grey list" of countries under special scrutiny to implement standards to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing and took Morocco out of the grey list.

FATF members include 39 countries, including the United States, India, China and Saudi Arabia, as well as European countries such as Britain, Germany and France and the EU as such. Ukraine is not a member.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Ingrid Melander; Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Karin Strohecker, Olena Harmash, Elaine Monaghan; Editing by Jane Merriman, Louise Heavens, Andrea Ricci and William Mallard)