Pakistan’s fate at FATF hangs in the balance

ISLAMABAD: As the global watch dog for money laundering and terror financing, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), gears up to conduct its virtual plenary meeting from October 21 to 23 in Paris, Pakistan is keeping its fingers crossed with hopes of being taken off the grey list.
Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, spokesperson for the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, has stated that the FATF Action Plan is being implemented since 2018 and “significant progress has been made in this regard”.
“The process of FATF is ongoing. Pakistan is implementing the FATF Action Plan since 2018 and we have made significant progress in this regard. Our entire AML/CFT regime has been revamped in compliance with the Action Plan to bring it to the international standards set by the FATF,” he said.
“The substantial progress made by Pakistan under a huge national effort includes steps in legislative, regulatory and operational domains,” he added.
However, the country’s progress still does not comply with the 27-point Action Plan provided by the FATF, making Pakistan’s hopes of removal from the grey list gloomier.
In the recent Follow-Up Report (FUR), released by the FATF’s Asian Pacific Group (APG), revealed that Pakistan has been non-compliant (NC) on at least four recommendations, largely compliant (LC) on eight and partially compliant (PC) on at least 28 out of 40 recommendations.
The FUR is part of the Mutual Evaluations Report (MER) of APG, annual report of which was released last October.
Islamabad has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018 for allegedly facilitating or not curbing the spread and flow of terror financing and money laundering. Pakistan was given a breather in February, when the 36-nation watchdog decided to give Pakistan until June, when it planned to review the country’s progress or compliance of the action plan.
However, the outbreak of novel coronavirus forced the FATF meeting to be postponed.
In the meantime, the Pakistan government under Prime Minister Imran Khan has amended at least 14 laws related to its legal system with an aim to fulfil the FATF standards.
Pakistan has been able to escape from being pushed into the FATF blacklist at least twice since 2018 through active diplomatic support from countries including Turkey, China and Malaysia.
It is expected that Pakistan will be eyeing the same countries to come out in its support, as it would try to gain more time and guarantee complete compliance with the FATF action plan.
FATF has also acknowledged Pakistan’s political commitment and the progress made by us in a number of areas in the Action Plan,” said Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Chaudri.
“We are committed to and moving towards completion of the Action Plan. We remain engaged with the process,” he added.

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