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August 24, 2019

APG puts Pakistan on enhanced monitoring mechanism

Top Story

August 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has put Pakistan on enhanced monitoring mechanism after finding out deficiencies on implementing 11 immediate outcomes of 40 recommendations. Islamabad will have to submit new report to the APG on 40 recommendations on February 1, 2020.

A spokesperson for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has dismissed reports of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) blacklisting Pakistan.

Speaking to Geo News, spokesperson Alexandra Wijmenga clarified that only the FATF had the authority to blacklist, not its regional affiliate APG. According to the spokesperson, the FATF will hold its meeting on October 14-18 in Paris and decisions, which are taken would be published.

Earlier, the Ministry of Finance rejected reports in the Indian media that Pakistan had been blacklisted by the APG. “Media reports circulating about Pakistan being blacklisted by APG is incorrect and baseless,” a press release from the ministry said.

“[APG] has put Pakistan in its enhanced follow-up as per APG’s Third Round Mutual Evaluation Procedures. In linewith APG’s Third Round Mutual Evaluation Procedures, Pakistan would be required to submit follow-up progress reports to APG on quarterly basis,” it added.

The APG in its meeting during the week of 18-23 August adopted Pakistan’s third mutual evaluation report. A statement by the APG read, “During the week, APG members adopted six significant mutual reports. The reports – for China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the Philippines and Solomon Islands – were analysed and discussed in detail over two full days and will now be subject to post-plenary quality and consistency review prior to publication. Final publication on the APG website is expected in early October 2019.”

With increased scrutiny, Pakistan has come into limelight of watchdog working against money laundering and terror financing. The chances of coming out from grey list in coming October at FATF’s review meeting at Paris has become grim and Islamabad may have to place into extended grey list with new action plan in which emphasis may be shifted to combat proscribed organizations and launch offensive against terror financing.

The APG’s Mutual Evaluation and its scrutiny on 40 recommendations and FATF’s 27 action plan are two different issues. Now the FATF’s face to face meeting will take place from September 9 to 13 at Bangkok. The FATF review meeting will take place from October 13 to 18 at Paris. The outcome of face to face meeting of FATF and APG’s Mutual Evaluation will be merged and analyzed during the review meeting scheduled to be held at Paris from October 13 to 18.

In FATF review, Pakistan requires support of friendly countries to avoid blacklist. In the last review, Pakistan got four votes for rejection of Indian resolution as Islamabad got support and obtained four votes including Turkey, China, Malaysia and GCC. Now Saudi Arabia is also expected to vote in favor of Pakistan in next review meeting of FATF.

One top official told The News on Friday that based on APG criteria Pakistan has been put on its enhanced monitoring category. Under this category, Pakistan would be required to submit first technical report to APG on Feb 1, 2020 to update on improvement in technical compliance. There is no concept of blacklisting in APG, he added.

Pakistan’s submitted Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) was based upon our position in October 2018 after which positive development had taken place. The APG audit bound our report on time based criteria during which the country was unable to make desired progress because of political transition happening in the country.

Ministry of Finance in its official statement said on Friday that it is clarified that APG in its 22nd Annual Meeting held in Canberra, Australia from 18-23 August 2019 has adopted Pakistan’s 3rd Mutual Evaluation Report and has put Pakistan in its enhanced follow-up as per APG’s Third Round Mutual Evaluation Procedures.

In line with APG’s Third Round Mutual Evaluation Procedures, Pakistan would be required to submit follow-up progress reports to APG on quarterly basis. It is further clarified that the media reports being circulated about Pakistan being blacklisted by APG are incorrect and baseless, the Ministry added.

The APG in its statement said that over 520 senior delegates from 46 jurisdictions and 13 international organizations came together in Canberra, Australia during the week of 18 – 23 August 2019 to convene the APG’s 22nd annual meeting and annual technical assistance forum. The event was chaired by Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close of the Australian Federal Police and Abu Hena Mohd. Razee Hassan, Head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit.

During the week, APG members adopted six significant mutual evaluation reports including China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, China, Pakistan, the Philippines and Solomon Islands - which were analyzed and discussed in detail over two full days and will now be subject to post-plenary quality and consistency review prior to publication.

Final publication on the APG website is expected in early October 2019. The APG also adopted a number of follow-up reports for APG members and for joint APG/FATF members and also agreed on revised evaluation procedures for the coming year reflecting recent changes to global procedures.

APG members adopted a CFT Operational Plan as part of a global strategy to address the concerns related to terrorist financing. As part of this plan, the plenary agreed to undertake a typologies and implementation project examining the financing and facilitation of foreign fighters and returnees.

Also discussed and adopted were the following important typologies reports: APG/EAG report on Terrorism Financing & Proceeds of Crime (including Organised Crime). The report identifies techniques and trends associated with the use of proceeds of crime including from organised crime for financing terrorism. The report is expected to be published in November 2018.

The 2019 APG Yearly Typologies Report includes approximately 135 cases received from 19 member jurisdictions and APG observers.

Members agreed on a new joint project with the Alliance for Financial Stability with Information Technology – to develop a workshop to be held in early 2020 on the application of FATF Guidance on Digital KYC to the Asia Pacific region following its adoption/publication by the FATF in February 2020.

The APG’s Annual Forum on Technical Assistance and Training held in tandem with the annual meeting included 30 meetings over five days, comprised of 26 individual sessions between members and donors of AML/CFT technical assistance.

Three sub-regional meetings were also convened. These discussions led to important information-sharing and coordination mechanisms among the APG’s members, observers, donors and providers.

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