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ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is expected to decide about the likely removal of Pakistan from its grey list today (Friday).

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar is in Paris to attend the crucial FATF first plenary under the two-year Singapore Presidency of T Raja Kumar from 20-21 October 2022.

Delegates representing 206 members of the Global Network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN), the World Bank (WB), INTERPOL, and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, are participating in the Working Group and Plenary meetings.

According to a press release of the FATF, the delegates will discuss key issues including guidance on improving beneficial ownership transparency to prevent shell companies and other opaque structures from being used to launder illicit funds.

It stated that the plenary will also discuss a report on the laundering of illicit proceeds generated from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids and proposals to enhance asset recovery.

Khar in Paris to attend crucial FATF meeting

It added that discussions will also focus on jurisdictions identified as presenting a risk to the international financial system, with an update to public statements that identify jurisdictions as high risk or being subject to increased monitoring.

A summary of the Plenary’s decisions will be published on the FATF’s website following the conclusion of the meeting.

Today, the FATF president will hold a press conference to announce the outcomes of the Plenary after it has ended. The press conference is scheduled for 17:00 CEST in which the FATF president is also expected to announce the decision about Pakistan as to whether or not it will be removed from its grey list.

Earlier, a 15-member FATF delegation, comprising its counterterrorism experts, visited Pakistan from August 29 to September 5, 2022 and held meetings with the country’s leadership, besides getting briefings from relevant authorities on Pakistan’s implemented reforms, particularly the critical measures undertaken with regard to AML/CFT. Based on the performance and the last formality on the part of the FATF – the onsite visit – Pakistan is hopeful to be removed from the FATF grey list. Pakistan was added to the FATF’s grey list in June 2018 for deficiencies in its system to curb money laundering and terror financing.

On September 14, 2022, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said pursuant to the authorization of onsite visit by FATF Plenary in June 2022, a FATF technical team recently visited Pakistan and held detailed discussions with relevant agencies. “From our perspective, it was a smooth and successful visit,” he said, adding that the focus of the visit was to validate on ground Pakistan’s high-level commitment and sustainability of reforms in our AML/CFT regime. The meetings with the FATF team were held in a constructive and positive atmosphere, he added.

He said that the report of the FATF onsite team will be discussed in FATF’s ICRG and plenary meetings in Paris. “Pakistan is looking forward to [a] logical conclusion to the ongoing evaluation process,” he added.

As regards the status of Pakistan’s progress, he stated that FATF’s latest evaluation of Pakistan supersedes its findings in previous years. As a result of Pakistan’s strenuous and consistent efforts over the last four years, he added that Pakistan has not only achieved a high degree of technical compliance with FATF standards it has also ensured a high level of effectiveness through the implementation of two comprehensive FATF action plans, and it is committed to continuing its efforts in this regard.

With regard to technical compliance with FATF standards, the spokesperson said that Pakistan has now been rated as Compliant/Largely Compliant in 38 out of 40 FATF recommendations, which places the country among the top compliant countries in the world.

“Completion of both Action Plans by Pakistan in June 2022 is, in fact, an acknowledgement by FATF of attaining a high level of effectiveness on FATF standards,” he stated.

Over the last four years, he added that Pakistan’s effectiveness in AML/CFT regime has increased across all immediate outcomes, which has significantly mitigated risks and threats of money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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