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ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Friday acknowledged that Pakistan has substantially completed all 34 items of the two separate action plans, bringing it nearer to finally exit the country out of its grey list in October 2022 plenary, contingent to recommendations of its technical team’s onsite visit likely next month to verify the implementation of the reforms.

The FATF reviewed Pakistan’s progress on the Action Plans in its plenary meetings held in Berlin on 13-17 June 2022. The FATF has acknowledged the completion of Pakistan’s both action plans (2018 and 2021) and has authorized an onsite visit to Pakistan, as a final step to exit from the FATF’s grey list.

In a statement issued at the conclusion of the plenary meetings, the FATF stated that since June 2018, when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, Pakistan’s continued political commitment to combating both terrorist financing and money laundering has led to significant progress.

“In particular, Pakistan demonstrated that TF investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN designated terrorist groups and that there is a positive upward trend in the number of ML investigations and prosecutions being pursued in Pakistan, in line with Pakistan’s risk profile,” it stated. In addition, the statement added that Pakistan also largely addressed its 2021 action plan ahead of the set times.

At its June 2022 plenary, it added that the FATF made the initial determination that Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained, and that the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future.

“The FATF will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and conduct an on-site visit at the earliest possible date,” it added.

FATF grey-list: Pakistan’s delegation leaves for Berlin

Addressing a news conference, which was televised live from Berlin, FATF’s Dr Marcus Pleyer said that the global watchdog on money launder and combating terror financing acknowledged the reforms implemented by Pakistan for the completion of its two separate action plans. “After a lot of work by the Pakistani authorities, I’m glad to say that they have now largely addressed all 34 items of the action plans from their combined two action plans. The FATF agrees that Pakistan has substantially completed its action plans,” he added.

He said that the reforms brought by Pakistan are “good for the stability and security of the country and the region”, adding that they will ensure that Pakistan will now more effectively tackle money laundering and funding of terrorist groups. He further stated that FATF team will now undertake an on ground visit to check that Pakistan’s reforms are in place and can be sustained into the future. “Pakistan is not being removed from the grey list today. The country will be removed from the list if it successfully passes the on-site visit,” the FATF president announced.

In a statement, Foreign Office said that the FATF has acknowledged the completion of Pakistan’s both Action Plans (2018 and 2021) and has authorized an onsite visit to Pakistan, as a final step to exit from the FATF’s grey list.

“The FATF members while participating in the discussion on Pakistan’s progress, congratulated Pakistan for completing both Action Plans covering 34 items, and especially on the early completion of the 2021 Action Plan in a record timeframe,” it stated, adding that Pakistan continued its relentless efforts towards successful completion of these Action Plans despite many challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic.

FATF: German envoy optimistic about Pakistan’s prospects

“Pakistan has covered a lot of ground in the AML/CFT domain during implementation of FATF Action Plans. The engagement with FATF has led to the development of a strong AML/CFT framework in Pakistan and resulted in improving of our systems to cope with future challenges.” The Pakistan delegation, which attended FATF Plenary meetings in Berlin, was led by Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/Chairperson National FATF Coordination Committee.

In a video statement, Khar said that the FATF has unanimously cleared Pakistan on all the points of the action plans. “The FATF considered Pakistan’s action plans of 2018 and 2021 and their technical evaluation. I’m pleased to announce that FATF unanimously cleared Pakistan on all the points of the action plans and described Pakistan’s performance as up to mark,” she said.

With this, she added that the process of Pakistan’s exiting from the FATF’s grey list starts, as per the procedure of the anti-money laundering and combating of the terror financing watchdog.

She stated that a technical evaluation team as per the procedure will be sent to Pakistan for anon ground visit to confirm the progress on the action plan. “It’s our utmost effort that the technical evaluation team would complete its work prior to the October 2022 plenary. We have made it sure to them that we will ensure their comfort and ease. With this, the process of Pakistan’s exiting from the grey list will come to an end in October 2022,” she added.

She also congratulated the entire nation and also acknowledged the efforts and hard work of the institutions, ministries and the individuals and the team which worked on the action plan. “It was pleasure that the hard work was recognized,” she said, adding that now Pakistan also desires to become part of the international regulatory system and financial regulatory system.

In a tweet, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to continue the momentum and give its economy a boost. “Congrats Pakistan! FATF declares both Action Plans complete. International community has unanimously acknowledged our efforts. Our success is the result of 4 yrs of challenging journey. Pakistan reaffirms resolve to continue the momentum and give our economy a boost. Well done Pak Team FATF. Pakistan Zindabad!” she tweeted. Diplomatic sources said that the FATF is expected to send its technical team to Pakistan in July to verify the progress and implementation on the two separate action plans given to the country, first in 2018 and the second in 2021.

Earlier in February 2018, the FATF placed Pakistan on its grey list with effect from June 2018 and given it a 27-point action plan for implementation required for exiting from the grey list.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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