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February 18, 2019

FATF Asia Pacific Group satisfied with Pak performance

Top Story

February 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) has presented its report to the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) expressing satisfaction over the measures taken by Pakistan to curb terror financing and money laundering, The News has learnt.

The ICRG will discuss the APG’s reply for five consecutive days and furnish its recommendations with the task force. The task force will again meet in May to finalise recommendations about Pakistan’s removal from the grey list.

Though Pakistan is not a member of FATF, its delegation will remain present at the venue to respond to expected queries and to campaign for Pakistan’s action taken in the light of the task force’s 27 points. Pakistan hopes for success, as some European countries have assured it of their support in the FATF’s final meeting.

These countries are convinced that Pakistan has taken measures to stop terrorist financing and currency smuggling from airports, border (especially Afghanistan) and coastal belt and ensure strict measures to check suspicious transactions in the banking system, The News learnt.

The two-member Pakistani delegation remained present during the FATF plenary session on Sunday to respond to queries raised in Sydney, with the hope of satisfying the member countries

However, at the same time they are very cautious about the Indian reaction in

tomorrow’s (today) in the formal session in Paris. Secretary Finance Arif Khan will join Pakistan’s delegation today, The News learnt.

From Monday (today) a three-member delegation comprising finance secretary, director general Financial Monitoring Unit and Foreign Office representatives will attend the FATF formal meetings and make efforts to convince member countries to submit a satisfactory report to the FATF meeting to be held in September this year.

The News learnt that the important queries responded to by Pakistan are about the use of methodology and technology to identify STR, control money laundering and actions to block financial assistance of terrorists.

Another query was about the campaign by Pakistan to create awareness about the steps and laws. It has been learnt that the data presented in the FATF meeting reads that till December 2017 the Pakistani system had pointed out 5500 STRs.

With the improvement of methodology and technology according to international standards till December 2018 this number increased to 8500 showing an increase of 75 percent. This was for the first time that all departments came on the same page, prepared a comprehensive strategy and implemented it as per international community’s requirement, said a senior official involved in the exercise to ensure implementation of the FATF points.

The government has prepared a functional strategy for FATF points, said the official. In the meetings, the Asia Pacific Group will present its report on the meeting held in Sydney from January 8 to 10 where it reviewed progress in four key areas - Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment report, customs department report on cash couriers, implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and inter-agency coordination.

In Sydney’s meeting, out of 27 points, five were selected to be implemented by Pakistan. These areas are risk assessment report according to international standards, proper identification and nature of risks of cash couriers being used for terrorist financing through border, coastal belt and airports, assessment and understanding of both domestic and trans-national terrorism financing risks to guide terrorist financing investigations, confided a senior official who participated in the FATF meetings.

Whereas actions related to targeted financial sanctions are regarding asset freezing and ongoing prohibitions to provide funds and financial services and publication of an updated list of persons and entities pro-scribed under the Anti-Terrorism Act and UN-designated entities. These two have been fulfilled by Pakistan, The News learnt.

Pakistan will keep on working on the remaining 22 points as per satisfaction of the FATF. One area where India may give tough time to Pakistan is data sharing about the actions taken against the banned organizations, their activities and areas where they had been operating.

Pakistan is not ready to provide this information. Pakistan’s stance is that the FATF can ask about actions taken [by Pakistan] against the banned outfits and not further details. The next meeting will held in May 2019 to be followed by a meeting in Sept 2019 in which final decision will be taken about Pakistan’s removal from the grey list.