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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has made progress on all the 27 benchmarks laid down in Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Action Plan and sent its compliance report to FATF near end January.

This was claimed by government sources who added that they are hopeful that Pakistan would be out of the Grey List following the upcoming meeting of global terror financing watchdog.

“From our side, we are very sure that all the benchmarks set in FATF Action Plan have been achieved. We have exhausted all possible options to make sure that all the 27 requirements are met and we believe we have achieved this target. Now it’s up to them (FATF) how they see the progress we have made and what decisions they take,” said a senior government official, on strict condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity involved in the matter.

FATF would review Pakistan’s progress on the Action Plan in its three-day plenary meeting being held on February 22, February 24 and February 25.

Three main concerns of FATF notably terror financing, money laundering and activities of proscribed outfits have been addressed, the government officials further claimed.

“There has been very important parliamentary legislation related to Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). And there has been strong action against proscribed organisations. Courts have sentenced lengthy jail terms to top leaders of certain proscribed organisations due to strong prosecution,” said a government functionary, who also requested not to be named.

Officials said federal government set up a dedicated Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) under the supervision of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to monitor financial transactions, in line with Pakistan’s commitments to FATF.

Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar is spearheading the efforts to move Pakistan out of Grey List. He would represent Pakistan in the FATF’s plenary meeting.

In June 2018, FATF placed Pakistan on its list of “jurisdictions under increased monitoring” or Grey List citing structural deficiencies, which, according to FATF, resulted in Pakistan’s failure to effectively combat terror financing and money laundering.

In February 2020, FATF expressed concerns over “Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the terrorist financing risks emanating from the jurisdiction.” Following this development, the global terror financing watchdog along with International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) issued a 27-point Action Plan for Pakistan to address these structural deficiencies.

In October last year, FATF noted that Pakistan fully met the targets laid down in 21 of the 27 items of the Action Plan and asked the county to achieve full progress on the Action Plan by February 2021.

Earlier on Friday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafez Chaudhri said in a press briefing “FATF had assessed Pakistan to have completed 21 of the 27 Action Items under the current Action Plan. In the remaining six partially addressed items, significant progress has been made by Pakistan, which is duly acknowledged by the wider FATF membership. Pakistan remains committed to completing its FATF Action Plan.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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