By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday announced that Pakistan will continue to remain in its “increased monitoring list” referred to more commonly as the grey list.
FATF President Dr Marcus Player, while addressing a webinar to announce the decisions taken by the plenary in its three-day meeting period, said that the forum has decided that Pakistan “needs to do more” when it comes to fulfilling the requirements set out by the task force. It was acknowledged that of the 27 conditions that were put forth to Pakistan, 21 have been fulfilled. Responding to a question, Dr Player said that once the remaining six conditions are fulfilled, an “on site visit” will be approved under which a team from the FATF will visit the country for the next review.
“Our discussions are confidential, and the members decided by consensus that Pakistan needs to complete these six items for an onsite visit to be granted,” he said. “As soon as the plenary decides that Pakistan has completed all the 27 items, then an onsite visit will be made. After that, it will be decided whether the country will be allowed to exit the grey list or not,” he added.
He also said that the new deadline for Pakistan to fulfil the remaining conditions is February 2021. The plenary was earlier scheduled in June but got postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The global financial watchdog had in 2018 placed Pakistan on its gray list of countries with inadequate controls over money laundering, a potential source of terror financing, and gave it the action plan to implement.
In February this year, the country won a four-month grace period, until June this year, to meet the international anti-terrorism financing norms. That deadline was extended to October due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by June 2020,” the FATF had said in a statement issued after a meeting in Paris in February. “Otherwise, should significant and sustainable progress especially in prosecuting and penalising TF (terrorism financing) not be made by the next Plenary, the FATF will take action.”
In February, the FATF had noted that Pakistan had delivered on 14 points but missed 13 other targets. On July 28, the government reported to Parliament compliance with 14 points of the 27-point action plan and with 10 of the 40 recommendations. By September 16, however, the joint session of the parliament amended about 15 laws to upgrade its legal system matching international standards as required by the agency. Officials have been hopeful of a positive outcome, especially after the recent legislation by parliament on counter-terror financing and money laundering.
However, being placed on the black list would put Pakistan in company with Iran and North Korea and see it shunned by international financial institutions.India’s plans will fail Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday said India’s plans to “push Pakistan into the blacklist” of the FATF will fail because of the steps the country has taken to meet the requirements of the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
He was speaking to reporters in Islamabad, hours before the FATF is expected to announce whether Pakistan will remain on its ‘grey list’ or if the country has done enough to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing regimes.
“I can say this with confidence, India will fail in its designs to push Pakistan into the blacklist,” Qureshi said, adding that the world had “acknowledged” today that the incumbent government and parliament had taken “concrete steps” regarding the FATF action plan.
He said Pakistan had conducted legislation and taken administrative measures to check money laundering and terror financing which were not seen in the recent past.