The global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force or FATF has retained Pakistan on its terrorism financing “grey list” and asked Islamabad to address at the earliest the remaining deficiencies in its financial system, according to a media report on Saturday.
Pakistan has been on the grey list of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force since June 2018 for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing, and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019.
Since then, the country continues to be on that list due to its failure to comply with the FATF mandates.
The plenary on Friday decided against existing Pakistan from the category despite the country meeting 32 out of 34 action points, the Dawn newspaper reported.
However, Pakistan's robust progress on its global commitments to fight financial crimes was appreciated at the concluding session of its hybrid plenary meeting, which noted that Pakistan had completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan of the FATF and of the seven action items of the 2021 action plan of the watchdog's Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG).
The plenary noted that since June 2018 — when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies — the country's continued political commitment had led to significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan, the report said.
The FATF encouraged Pakistan to continue making progress to address, as soon as possible, the one remaining item by continuing to demonstrate that terror financing investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.
In response to additional deficiencies later identified in Pakistan's 2019 APG Mutual Evaluation Report in June 2021, Pakistan provided further high-level commitment to address these strategic deficiencies pursuant to a new action plan that primarily focuses on combating money laundering.
“Since June 2021, Pakistan has taken swift steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime and completed six of the seven action items ahead of any relevant deadlines expiring, including by demonstrating that it is enhancing the impact of sanctions by nominating individuals and entities for UN designation and restraining and confiscating proceeds of crime in line with Pakistan's risk profile,” the FATF said.
“Pakistan should continue to work to address the one remaining item in its 2021 action plan by demonstrating a positive and sustained trend of pursuing complex (money laundering) investigations and prosecutions,” it said.
Officials said Pakistan now aimed to fully comply with the 2021 action plan on anti-money laundering and combating terror financing by the end of January 2023.
The country had two concurrent action plans with a total of 34 action points, of which 30 had either been fully or largely addressed to curb money laundering and terror financing. The most recent action plan of 2021 on money laundering from the APG had largely focused on money laundering.
The completion of APG's action plan for the effectiveness of AML/CFT is also a structural benchmark of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for end-March.
Recently, the IMF asked Pakistan to complete the last remaining item in the 2018 AML/CFT action plan on the effectiveness of terror financing investigations and prosecutions of senior leaders of UN-designated terrorist groups, and promptly address the deficiencies identified in the APG's Mutual Evaluation Report under the 2021 action plan.
Pakistan has so far avoided being on the black list with the help of close allies like China, Turkey and Malaysia.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The FATF currently has 39 members including two regional organisations -- the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council. India is a member of the FATF consultations and its Asia Pacific Group.