Pakistan closer to
removal from ‘grey list’
after FATF says all
34 conditions met

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BERLIN: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said on Friday that Pakistan had met all 34 items on two separate action plans, adding that the watchdog will now schedule an on-site visit to verify the implementation and sustainability of the country’s money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures before removing it from its increased monitoring list, also known as the grey list.

According to a statement by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, Pakistan has substantially completed both its action plans, which showed that necessary political commitment was in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future.

BERLIN: Financial Action Task Force (FATF) officials are seen on the second day of the latest plenary session in Berlin, Germany.

“The FATF will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit at the earliest possible date.”

“Pakistan demonstrated that terror financing investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups and that there is a positive upwards trend in the number of money laundering investigations and prosecutions being pursued in Pakistan, in line with Pakistan’s risk profile,” it added.

Pakistan also largely addressed its 2021 action plan ahead of the set times, the FATF said. The FATF decision came during a press conference after the conclusion of a four-day plenary session that began in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday.

Delegates representing 206 FATF members and observers — including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units — attended the plenary session.

Diplomatic sources earlier told Dawn that China and some other allies were quietly working to get Pakistan off the grey list latest during the latest plenary session.

Recent reports in the international media also mentioned this “quiet lobbying”, led by China, and one Indian media outlet reported that the plenary session “is likely to decide to move Pakistan out from the list of countries under increased monitoring, commonly known as its grey list”.

Several politicians, mostly from the PTI, and journalists posted on social media today that the FATF had removed Pakistan from the grey list. However, at the time, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who was leading Pakistan’s delegation in Berlin, cautioned that prejudging the outcome and speculative reporting should be avoided.

She pointed out that the plenary meetings were still ongoing and the FATF would issue a statement tonight after their conclusion. She added that a press conference would be held at the foreign ministry on Saturday (tomorrow) in this regard.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also called for an end to speculations about the plenary session’s outcomes, terming them inappropriate.

Four years on the ‘grey list’

Pakistan has been on the grey list since June 2018.

Sources told Dawn that an April 9 judgement by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore could also help Pakistan in removing this stigma. The court sent Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Saeed to prison for 33 years on terrorism charges.

Those who support the move to remove Pakistan from the list point out that the two cases that led to his imprisonment were filed by Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Department.

In its last plenary, held in Paris in March this year, the FATF noted that “Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan”. The FATF encouraged Pakistan “to address, as soon as possible, the one remaining item — investigating terrorism financing and targeting” senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.

In its last plenary, held in Paris in March this year, the FATF noted that “Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan”. The FATF encouraged Pakistan “to address, as soon as possible, the one remaining item — investigating terrorism financing and targeting” senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.

FATF acknowledged at the time that Pakistan had also met six of the seven action plan items — part of a separate list — it was asked to comply with in June 2021 to counter money laundering. In June 2021, when most observers had expected Pakistan would be removed from the monitoring list after having completed 26 out of the 27 items on the original action plan, the watchdog, in a surprise move, had announced Pakistan would have to show compliance with a parallel seven-point plan in order to reach safe shores.

For the latest plenary session, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had prepared a presentation for the FATF plenary, showing how Pakistan has completed all the 27 tasks that it was given.

How is a country removed from the list?

According to the FATF website, a country needs to complete all or nearly all of the components of its action plan in order to be removed from the monitoring list. Once the global watchdog has determined that a country has completed the components, it will schedule an on-site visit to “confirm that the implementation of the necessary legal, regulatory, and/or operational reforms is under way and there is the necessary political commitment and institutional capacity to sustain implementation”.

If there is a positive outcome of the visit, the FATF would decide on removing the country from public identification at the next plenary.

The country would continue to work on improving its anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing regimes through the FATF’s normal follow-up process.