ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday removed Pakistan, by consensus, from its list of countries under “increased monitoring”, also known as ‘grey list’ after four years.
The decision was taken in a two-day FATF plenary and International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) meetings held from October 20-21, 2021 at Paris and the same was announced in a press conference by the FATF’s president, T Raja Kumar.
He stated that Pakistan was given two concurrent action plans and after a lot of work by Pakistani authorities, they have largely addressed all of the action plan items.
He stated that the task force had conducted an onsite visit at the end of August, adding that the onsite team verified that there is a high level of commitment from the Pakistani leadership, sustainability of reforms and commitment to make improvements in the future.
“As a result of these action plans, Pakistan has made significant improvements to strengthen the effectiveness of this framework for combating terrorism financing,” the FATF president acknowledged.
He stated that steps had also been taken to strengthen risk-based supervision of financial and non-financial institutions, improve asset confiscation outcomes, and investigate and prosecute money laundering. “As a result of this, Pakistan has been removed from the increased monitoring list,” he announced.
In a press release, the FATF welcomed Pakistan’s “significant progress” in improving its anti-money laundering and combating financing terror (AML/ CFT) regime.
It stated that Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/ CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies to meet the commitments of its action plans regarding strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021, the latter of which was completed in advance of the deadlines, encompassing 34 action items in total.
“Pakistan is therefore no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process,” it stated. However, it added that Pakistan will continue to work with the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) to further improve its AML/ CFT system.
Speaking at a news conference virtually from Pakistan Embassy in Paris, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar stated that Pakistan has been whitelisted by FATF as a result of the significant progress over the past four years.
“I wanted to share with the nation a much-awaited good news regarding Pakistan’s engagement with FATF…Alhamdolillah, I am pleased to announce that as a result of our sustained efforts during [the] last four years, acknowledgement of our unwavering political commitment and the successful On-site Visit, FATF has fully recognized completion all substantive, technical as well as procedural requirements of Pakistan’s 2018 and 2021 Action Plans,” she said.
During the FATF meetings, she said the report of the FATF’s on-site visit to Pakistan, which took place in the first week of September 2022, was discussed.
Consequently, she added that the FATF unanimously decided to remove Pakistan from the “list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring”. “In simpler terms, Pakistan has been whitelisted by FATF. FATF has already issued a formal public statement announcing this decision,” she added.
She stated that the FATF has welcomed Pakistan’s significant progress in improving our AML/ CFT regime. “It has been recognised that Pakistan has strengthened the effectiveness of its AML/ CFT regime and addressed technical deficiencies and commitments of its Action Plans comprising of total 34 action items. Pakistan has addressed all strategic deficiencies that FATF identified in June 2018 and June 2021,” she added.
She stated that Pakistan completed the 2021 Action Plan in advance of the deadlines, adding that Pakistan is no longer subject to the FATF’s increased monitoring process, which means, Pakistan has been whitelisted by FATF.
To advance and promote international cooperation, she added that Pakistan will continue to work with APG to further improve its AML/ CFT system.
“This truly is a result of a whole-of-country efforts and demonstration of our resolve to improve our domestic systems to counter money laundering and financing of terrorism and bring them at par with the international standards. This would not have been possible without complete national consensus across political spectrum,” Khar said.
She also thanked the leadership for providing strategic direction, confidence and support to all institutions throughout the process to achieve this key national objective. “The success we have achieved today is indicator of what we can achieve when we work together with sense of purpose and commitment,” she emphasized.
During the last four years, she added that Pakistan has undertaken broad-based and comprehensive legal, administrative and procedural reforms to improve all aspects of our domestic AML/ CFT regime. This includes amending laws related to anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism, she said.
“We also increased synergy in the system, streamlined the processes, improved inter-agency coordination, enhanced international cooperation with other jurisdictions and organizations, instituted supervisory structures, created necessary administrative protocols and allocated sufficient financial and human resources to improve our compliance with the FATF Recommendations,” she added.
As a result of all this effort and hard work, she stated that Pakistan is now in a position where we can not only sustain the trajectory of these reforms without any international monitoring or pressure but can also share our expertise and resources with our countries in our region and beyond.
She also appreciated the tireless and dedicated efforts of the national FATF team for doing a tremendous job during the last four years to meet all FATF targets. She said that multiple departments and agencies, both at the federal and the provincial levels, have contributed to this national cause. “All of them deserve our appreciation and gratitude,” she added.
“We have said all along that our partnership and association with FATF, and the wider international community, is rooted in our strategic objective of strengthening our economy and further improving its integration with the international financial system. We want to be seen as a responsible and active member of the international community that is well aware of its international obligations,” she said.
“If there is one lesson that we should take as a country from the last four years is to build on this momentum of reform and not allow the gains to be reversed. We need to sustain the efforts for our own benefit and for the growth and development of our country,” Khar added.
In fact, she added that we must now become a role model for the world. She said that she has directed her team to start exploring ways in which we can enhance our cooperation and partnership with FATF and the wider international community, especially on the issue of AML/ CFT.
“Pakistan has come a long way in improving our domestic AML/ CFT framework and bringing it at par with the global standards. In many areas, we are now more compliant with global standards than most of the developed countries,” she said.
He expressed the confidence that this remarkable progress and the announcement of Pakistan’s exit from the FATF’s grey list would give a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s economy and increase its economic and financial engagement with the outside world.
“This is also a part of our wider focus on economic diplomacy. Economic diplomacy features very high on our agenda. We, at the Foreign Office, are placing a lot of focus on it so that we can utilize immense potential of our country and play a befitting role in the overall growth and development of Pakistan,” she added.
Together with other initiatives taken by the government to attract foreign investment and promote ease of doing business, she added that Pakistan’s whitelisting will usher in a new era of economic growth and activity.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022