FATF meets in Paris today: Pakistan skips slipping into black list

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — a Paris-based global anti-money laundering watchdog — is set to meet today to review the progress made by Pakistan towards implementation of its 27-point action plan.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has found Pakistan ‘fully compliant’ on 14 points of 27-point action plan, showing the country is making progress to comply with all of its conditions.

Now the ongoing plenary of the FATF at Paris will decide the fate of Pakistan this week with two possibilities: 1), to exclude Pakistan from the grey list and put it on the white list; 2), continue putting the country into the grey list for another extended period of three to six months.

Pakistan’s chances to slip into the black list have completely disappeared in view of the progress made in the last one year. Although, India has moved heaven and earth to get Pakistan into the black list, all its nefarious designs have come a cropper.

Pakistan has demonstrated success, as both the military and civilian leaderships are on one page. After getting 14 points on technical grounds, Pakistan will be needing political anddiplomatic efforts to get out of the grey list.

When this correspondent contacted the Pakistani authorities currently in Paris, they said all things were confidential and any official response would be available only after the conclusion of plenary meeting.

However, top official sources confirmed that the FATF joint group in its submitted report related to the ongoing plenary meeting at Paris had declared Pakistan compliant on fresh nine points. Earlier, Islamabad was cleared on five points.

The Pakistani delegation, led by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, is in Paris to attend the FATF’s plenary meeting from February 16 to 21.

In the October 2019 plenary meeting, Pakistan was declared fully compliant on five points which are (1) understanding risks of counter financing terrorist (CFT) by the financial sector (2) outreach sessions of Anti Money Laundering (AML) and CFT for the financial institutions (3) developing an integrated database at airports (4) mechanism to publicise designated persons and entities and (5) Terrorist Financing (TF) specific units and analysis done by Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

The FATF joint group meeting held recently in China had conveyed its findings to the plenary meeting showing Pakistan fully compliant on fresh nine points out of remaining 22 points. So in totality, Pakistan has become compliant on 14 points on technical grounds.

This time the joint group declared Pakistan compliant on (1) audit of financial institutions by the State Bank of Pakistan (2) Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) disseminations and analysis done by FMU (3) terror financing risk assessment and its implementation (4) inter-coordination mechanism of federal & provincial departments (5) parallel investigations by Counter Terrorism Departments (CTDs (6) risk assessment of cash smuggling (7) implementation of domestic cooperation to counter cash smuggling (8) understanding TF by the judiciary through conducting awareness and training session (9) risk based outreach of Designated Non-Banking Financial Institutions (DNBFI) and Non Profit Organizations (NPOs).

Now the FATF plenary meeting will take up Pakistan’s progress report this week and then it fate will be decided probably on February 18 and 19. However, the formal announcement would be made by end of the plenary meeting on February 21.

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