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ISLAMABAD: A technical team of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), comprising counterterrorism experts, concluded its on-site visit of Pakistan on Monday after getting first-hand information on the country’s implemented reforms – the last formality on the part of the watchdog, which will finally lead to Pakistan’s exit from its grey list in October’s plenary meeting.

Informed sources told Business Recorder that the FATF’s 15-member delegation visited Pakistan from August 29 to September 5 and held meetings with the country’s leadership, besides getting a briefing from relevant authorities on Pakistan’s implemented reforms, particularly the critical measures undertaken with regard to anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

The FATF technical team comprised of counterterrorism and money-laundering experts from member countries with exception of India, which had been lobbying to push Pakistan into the watchdog’s blacklist by leveraging its political and economic standing among the member countries.

“But we are thankful to all the member states, particularly the friendly countries who considered Pakistan’s case on technical grounds and acknowledged Pakistan’s successful completion of all the items of the action plan,” an official source said.

Since the FATF has no further demands required to be met by Pakistan, the official maintained that the technical team will present its report to the FATF followed by Pakistan’s possible exit from the grey list in the FATF’s forthcoming plenary in October this year.

The United States is believed to have played an important role in the positive development from FATF following Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s meeting with his US counterpart Secretary Antony Blinken in New York in March this year coupled with Pakistan’s successful completion of the reforms with regard to the country’s AML/CFT regime, including prosecuting the UN-designated terrorist groups and individuals.

The sources said that the FATF technical team verified and acknowledged Pakistan’s successful completion of all action items of 2018 Action Plan, including the last item on terrorist financing investigations and prosecutions of senior leaders of UN-designated terrorist groups, paving the way for the country’s exit from the FATF list of jurisdictions with serious deficiencies.

They added that the FATF team also verified completion of the parallel process on all the 7 action items in its 2021 AML/CFT action plan, completed ahead of the committed deadlines. They maintained that the FATF team was given an assurance that Pakistan will continue to ensure sustainability and effectiveness of AML/CFT efforts in addressing the ML/TF [money laundering & terrorist financing] risks in the country.

In its plenary meeting held in June this year, the FATF acknowledged that Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and authorized an on-site visit to verify Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms. Pakistan was added to the FTAF’s grey list in June 2018 for deficiencies in its system to curb money laundering and terror financing.

Earlier on August 11, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar chaired a meeting of the National FATF Coordination Committee at the Foreign Office in which the MOS was given detailed briefings on recent legal, policy and administrative actions to improve effectiveness of Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime.

The Minister of State expressed satisfaction on the trajectory of reforms and appreciated the collective system wide efforts in bringing Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime at par with international standards, which remains a top priority of the government.

The meeting was attended by senior officers from the National FATF Secretariat, Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Law and Justice, State Bank of Pakistan, Financial Monitoring Unit, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, National Counter-Terrorism Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Narcotics Force, and the National Accountability Bureau.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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