Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Gray List


The Gray List, in financial terms, is a list of countries that are under watch due to their insufficient control over anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) regulations. These countries are not as high risk as those on the “Black List,” but their practices are seen as questionable or deficient. It is compiled by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization focused on developing policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.


The phonetic spelling for “Gray List” is: greɪ lɪst

Key Takeaways

  1. The Gray List is a term frequently used in financial contexts, referring to a list of countries that aren’t necessarily involved in harmful activities, but their financial operations might be termed suspicious or unsafe. They aren’t blacklisted, but their activities are not transparent or trustworthy enough to earn them a place on the white list.
  2. Being gray-listed implies the countries on the list are being observed for their actions, particularly in areas such as money laundering, terrorism financing or other illicit financial activities. International bodies like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will provide the necessary oversight and guidance for these countries to improve their financial regulations.
  3. Nations on the Gray list are under more scrutiny from global organizations and may face sanctions or suffer financial disadvantages. The Gray list is considered an intermediate state before blacklisting, therefore, countries strive to improve their financial management systems and regulations in order to get off the list.


The term “Gray List” is crucial in business/finance for a variety of reasons. Essentially, a Gray List refers to a list of stocks or companies that are closely monitored due to concerns over their financial or ethical practices. Regulators, brokers, or investors may put certain businesses on a Gray List if they are considered risky or if they suspect possible fraudulent activity. This system offers a layer of protection for investors and the market by highlighting potential areas of concern. It allows for enhanced scrutiny and facilitates investment decisions according to the risk appetite of the investors. Additionally, for the companies on the list, it serves as an impetus to improve their practices and regain the trust of the market. Therefore, the concept of a Gray List holds a major role in maintaining the integrity of the financial markets and safeguarding investor interests.


The Gray List’s primary purpose in finance and business is to scrutinize and monitor the entities or nations closely that commit minor violations or irregularities, whether in terms of compliance with international standards, business ethics, or financial solvency. It acts as a precautionary measure, highlighting those who are at risk of entering the more severe ‘Black List’ if they fail to correct their actions or implement the necessary changes. By including entities on the Gray List, international financial organizations like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) aim to warn them about the potential risks associated with their conduct, urging them to improve their performance, thereby fostering a transparent and robust global financial system.Companies, organizations, or countries on the Gray List are considered to pose potential risks, but they are not completely shut off from the global marketplace. The listing encourages these entities to make necessary reforms and address their shortcomings. If these entities heed the warning, implement the necessary changes, and improve their compliance or ethical performance, they can be removed from the list. This dynamic can, therefore, stimulate progress and ensure a more efficient and compliant global financial environment. The existence of the Gray List paves the way for a better-regulated business environment and serves as a tool to enforce international standards and norms.


1. Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Gray List: The most well-known example of a gray list in finance is used by the Financial Action Task Force. In this context, the gray list includes countries not doing enough to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other threats to the global financial system. Countries on this list aren’t subject to sanctions like those on the blacklist, but they face increased scrutiny and monitoring. For example, in 2021, Malta, the smallest EU country, got gray-listed by FATF. 2. International Shipping: Another example is seen in the maritime industry. The Paris and Tokyo Memorandums of Understanding on Port State Control (MOUs) maintain ‘gray lists’ indicating vessels or flag states that have a record of substandard performance but haven’t yet met black or white list criteria. Ships from these nations are inspected more frequently.3. World Trade Organization (WTO) Gray List: The WTO maintains a gray list of countries that have trade restrictions in place that may violate global commerce rules but have not been officially ruled as illegal. This status can lead to increased scrutiny and potential trade sanctions.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Gray List in finance or business?

A gray list typically refers to a list of countries that are under increased monitoring due to suspicions of insufficient measures against money laundering and terrorist financing. It may also refer to a list of stocks of companies that are not yet widely recognized or investments that have uncertain potential returns or risk levels.

How is a Gray List used?

Regulatory authorities and financial institutions use the gray list as part of their monitoring and risk assessment processes. It helps warn these institutions to practice extra due diligence when dealing with countries or companies on the list.

How does a country or a company end up on the Gray List?

Generally, countries or companies end up on the gray list when they are viewed as non-cooperative or lacking sufficient regulation and enforcement against money laundering and financing terrorism activities.

How often does the Gray List change?

The gray list can change frequently based on evaluations conducted by regulatory authorities or financial institutions. If a country or company improves its practices or regulations, it can be removed from the list. Conversely, if measures worsen, a country or company can be added to the list.

What is the consequence for a country or company being on the Gray List?

Being on the gray list can lead to reputational damage and increased scrutiny from regulators and law enforcement. It may also make it more difficult for those countries or companies to engage in global financial transactions.

Is there a difference between the Gray List and Black List?

Yes, there’s a difference. The gray list is for those under increased monitoring due to potential risks or suspicious activities. The black list, however, represents the entities which have been proven to be involved in suspicious activities and have not committed to address these issues.

How can a country or a company be removed from the Gray List?

A country or company can be removed from the gray list by taking corrective actions to improve its regulatory systems, implementing stricter anti-money laundering measures, and actively cooperating with different countries to prevent illegal financing activities.

Related Finance Terms

  • Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Watch List
  • Insider trading
  • Market manipulation
  • Due diligence

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More