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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday, vowed to comply with the one remaining point on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) action plan in the coming four months as well as addressing the seven points of a new action plan to address the money laundering-related matters highlighted by the Asia-Pacific Group’s (APG’s) Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) within the next one year. Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar said this while addressing a press conference following the FATF's announcement to keep Pakistan on the "increased monitoring" list, pending action on one previous item and seven new areas on anti-money laundering.

He said the first action plan was regarding terror financing and the fresh one is regarding money laundering. He said to get out of the ‘grey list’ and join the ‘white list’, implementation of both the action plans is a must.

To comply with the FATF conditions in the past two years, Pakistan has devised 17 laws related to the FATF. Now Pakistan is just to join high compliance group of the FATF. Azhar said that “Pakistan has not come out of the grey list yet as more work needs to be done”.

Azhar said that the FATF has lauded Pakistan’s performance and there is no risk of the country going to the blacklist. He said that in fresh plan, the FATF raised objection on gems and jewelers’ businesses on account of money laundering. He added that the FATF wants Pakistan to speed up prosecution regarding money laundering.

Answering a question on Pakistan’s performance on the 2018 action plan, Azhar said Pakistan has completed 75 out of 82 action points, adding that “the body is not like it was 10 years ago”. He explained that in the FATF, all member countries review one country together, and assured everyone that Pakistan is not in the same position as it was two years ago.

“The importance of FATF has increased significantly in the current situation. [And the] FATF wants better monitoring of money laundering,” said Azhar. The minister further explained that the previous action plan that Pakistan was given was based on counter-terror financing.

He said that Pakistan has implemented 26 out of the 27 points, and added that the last point will be implemented upon as well. “The previous action plan was for counter-terrorism and the new one is for anti-money laundering,” said Azhar, adding that the anti-money laundering plan will be much easier to tackle than the counter-terrorism one.

The minister assured the nation that the federal government would implement the points mentioned in the anti-money laundering plan "in the next 12 months". “Pakistan has not been moved out of the grey list but Pakistan’s progress was noted globally,” said Azhar, speaking about the plenary meeting, which was held between June 21 and 25 in Paris.

The minister said that “Pakistan has implemented the most difficult FATF action plan” and its efforts are being acknowledged the world over today. The minister said, “FATF acknowledged that Pakistan implemented 26 out of 27 points. One point is left and we will complete that as well. There is no threat of blacklisting; Pakistan will not be blacklisted; it will be whitelisted”.

Asked about the FATF’s potential politicisation by countries such as India, he said the FATF claims to be an organisation that focuses on technical issues and does not pay attention to such issues. However, he acknowledged that India has been trying to influence the forum, but has not been able to impact Pakistan’s case, adding that “India has been totally exposed on the FATF platform”.

Describing Pakistan’s efforts to counter India’s propaganda at the FATF, he said, “we have been discussing the issue with [the] FATF's staff.” “India, with its questionable actions at the forum, has lost credibility and FATF is aware of that,” he emphasised.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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