Terror funding issue:
FATF retains Pakistan
on grey list

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PARIS: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced on Thursday that Pakistan will remain on its increased monitoring list, also called the grey list. Pakistan has been on the grey list for deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes since June 2018.

Announcing the decision, FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer said that Pakistan had to complete two concurrent action plans with a total of 34 items. “It has now addressed or largely addressed 30 of the items,” he said.

“Its most recent action plan from June this year, which largely focused on money laundering deficiencies, was issued after the FATF’s regional partner — the Asia Pacific Group — identified a number of serious issues.

FATF President Dr. Marcus Pleyer

“Overall, Pakistan is making good progress on this new action plan. Four out of the seven items are now addressed or largely addressed.”

He said that this included showing that financial supervisors are conducting on-site and off-site checking on non-financial sector businesses and enacting legislative amendments to improve international cooperation.

Commenting on the action plan devised in 2018 which focused on terror financing, the FATF president said that Pakistan was still assessed to have largely addressed 26 out of 27 items.

“Pakistan has taken a number of important steps but needs to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions are being pursued against the senior leadership of UN designated terror groups,” he said.

All these changes are about helping authorities stop corruption, preventing terrorism and organised criminals from benefitting from their crimes, he said, thanking the government for their “continued strong commitment” to the process.

Responding to a question about whether Pakistan would be blacklisted for its failure to act against those on the UN terrorism list, Dr Pleyer said that the country had completed 30 items out of 34 on two action plans.

“This shows the clear commitment of the Pakistani government so there is no discussion on blacklisting Pakistan and the FATF urges the country to address the remaining four items,” he said, adding that the government was cooperating with the financial watchdog.

FATF meeting in Paris

Reacting to the development, the government’s point man on the FATF — Energy Minister Hammad Azhar — said there was “good news”. “For the money laundering action plan: Within one cycle, four out of seven items addressed. A progress unprecedented in FATF history.

“For the terror financing action plan: 26 out of 27 items already complete. Majority of the countries believe that we have completed the action plan,” the minister said.

He said that now only “some countries” did not agree with the majority on the progress made by Pakistan on the terror financing action plan.

“We are getting closer to consensus numbers in spite of ‘challenges’. Our technical stance will be vindicated soon,” he concluded.

Shortly after the FATF’s announcement, Pakistan’s finance ministry said in a statement that significant work had already been carried out on the remaining items of the two action plans.

“Pakistan is fully committed to completing its both Action Plans in cooperation with FATF and its international partners,” it said.

“The high-level political commitment, which is driving its revamped AML/CFT [Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism] regime, is widely recognized by international community,” the Pakistani government said.

The FATF also acknowledged Pakistan’s progress on the implementation of June 2018 action plan, saying the country had “largely addressed” 26 out of 27 items.

FATF takes decision by consensus

To a question regarding an Indian minister’s claims that the Modi government had ensured that Pakistan remained on the ‘grey list’, Dr Pleyer said that the FATF is a technical body and “we take our decisions by consensus […] so it’s not only one country that makes decisions.”

Following the last plenary session in July, India’s Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar said the Modi-led Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government had ensured that Pakistan remained on the FATF grey list.

“Due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF and it was kept in the grey list,” Jaishankar was quoted as saying while addressing a virtual training programme on foreign policy for BJP leaders.

Refusing to comment on the Indian’s minister’s remarks, Dr Pleyer said that the FATF consists of 39 jurisdictions and the decisions on Pakistan are all taken by consensus.