Monday May 29, 2023

Pakistan completes FATF’s item list, moves closer to removal from grey list

FATF announces on-site visit to Pakistan after it completes watchdog’s list of 34 items; appreciates Islamabad's commitment

By Web Desk
June 17, 2022
Delegates from governments around the world and partner organisations participate in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) plenary in Berlin, Germany, on June 17, 2022. — Twitter/ FATFNews
Delegates from governments around the world and partner organisations participate in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) plenary in Berlin, Germany, on June 17, 2022. — Twitter/ FATFNews

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Friday announced an on-site visit to Pakistan after Islamabad completed the 34 items on the watchdog’s list, inching closer to exiting the "grey list".

“Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained,” a statement from the FATF said.

The announcement comes after the FATF’s four-day plenary session concluded in Berlin, where Pakistan’s situation came under discussion. Islamabad was placed on the FATF list of countries under increased monitoring in June 2018.

The watchdog’s statement acknowledged that the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future.

FATF said that since June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and the Asia Pacific Group (APG) to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies.

Following Islamabad’s commitment in 2018, the watchdog said that Pakistan’s continued political commitment to combating both terrorist financing and money laundering has led to significant progress.

In particular, Pakistan demonstrated that terror financing investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups, the watchdog said.

It added that there is a positive upwards trend in the number of money laundering investigations and prosecutions being pursued in the country, in line with Pakistan’s risk profile.

“In addition, Pakistan also largely addressed its 2021 action plan ahead of the set times,” it noted.

The FATF added that it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit at the earliest possible date.

'Result of 4 years of challenging journey'

Following the announcement, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar congratulated Pakistan for inching closer toward removal from the grey list.

 “The [international] community has unanimously [acknowleged] our efforts. Our success is the result of 4 years of challenging journey,” the state minister said in a tweet.

The minister added that Pakistan reaffirms its resolve to continue the momentum and give the country’s economy a boost. 

Meanwhile, speaking on Geo News' programme "Naya Pakistan", former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the watchdog will announce Pakistan's removal from the grey list in October.

PTI takes credit

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, in a series of tweets, said that Pakistan was nominated to the grey list in February 2018 and had to complete the most challenging action plan ever given to any jurisdiction.

“When my government took over, we faced the dire prospect of blacklisting by that body. Our past compliance history with FATF was also not favourable,” the ousted prime minister said.

He added that when in office, he constituted a FATF Coordination Committee headed by former minister Hammad Azhar, which had representation from all government departments and security agencies — who worked day and night to avoid the country from being backlisted.

Khan said that the FATF repeatedly praised the government’s work and the political will that the PTI government demonstrated.

The PTI chairman said not only did Pakistan avert being blacklisted, but also completed 32 out of 34 action items. “We submitted compliance report on remaining 2 items in April based on which FATF now declared Pak's Action Plan as completed.”

The ex-prime minister said he is confident that the pre-requisite on-site visit of the FATF team to confirm completed work on our action plan will pass successfully too.

“Hammad Azhar, members of his FATF coord committee & officers who worked on this task performed exceptionally well. The whole country is proud of you,” Khan said.