FATF & role of monitoring agencies in Pakistan

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Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti

THE Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is an international organization founded in year 1989 on the initiative of the G7 countries (USA, UK,Germany, France,Canada, Italy, and Japan) to develop strategies to fight against money laundering and terrorist funding.

The aims of FATF are to pro-mote effective implementation and set standards for effective implementation of operational, regulatory, and legalmeasures for opposingterrorist funding, money laundering, and other associated threats to the integrity of the global financial system.

Also, it is working to generate the essential political will to bring national regulatory and legislative reforms in these areas by monitoring progress in applying its Recommendations via mutual evaluations of mem-ber countries.

The FATF’s decision to keep Pakistan on its so-called grey list in despite Pakistan’s substantial progress on the creative action plan has upset many.

So far others see it as an opportunity to strengthen implementation to prove to the global community that the state is a responsible and willing to do what is predictable of it to make the world a secure place.

This is what the government’s position on money laundering and terrorism financing as well as its efforts to check illegal flow of money and corrup-tion in the country, as the main beneficiary of the practice to tackle money laundering and fight terror-ism financing would be the countrywide economy and the citizens of Pakistan.

The so far implemented actions to meet the 27-point FATF action plan have already give rise to in payments for the economy, providing more room to grow it.

Pakistan’s anti-corruption regulator has recognized an anti-terror financing and money laundering cell to keep an eye onillegal transfers of resources and financial crimes as the country fought to exit from the financial action tasks force’s grey list.

The Paris-based organization asked Pakistani government to devise a plan of action to controlterror financing and money laundering by the end of 2019 but the limit was stretched later due to the pandemic; COVID-19.NAB (National Accountability Bureau)took seri-ous action as Pakistan tried very hard to get out of that list of FATF.

The move comes after the organi-zation retained the country on itsgrey list for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financ-ing, and ordered the government to prosecute and investigate senior commanders and leaders of UN-designated terror groups, including Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed.

Moreover, the international body against terror financing and money laundering asked Pakistan to work to address its strategically vitalin-sufficiencies.
Indeed, the FATF is used by global powers as a political tool to put pressure on countries like Paki-stan.

There are examples where the global watchdog delisted other jurisdictions under its enhanced moni-toring even though they had done far less than Paki-stan to tighten their controls over flows of illegal money.

Thus, the feeling that India is misusing the FATF platform against Pakistan, as voiced by the foreign minister, is not entirely misplaced.

Also, there are many who are calling for the FATF to first take action against the European countries believed to be major hubs of illicit money before forcing Pakistan to meet its standards. These are legitimate concerns and Pakistan should ask for the fair appli-cation of the AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering / Combating the Financing of Terrorism) rule every-where.

On the other hand, the FATF has consistently been emphasizing the complete execution of its action plan for Pakistan to get off the list.

 

Yet some of us have failed to properly read the message of the watchdog after its review meetings, hoping that we still have enough geopolitical weight to get off the list, without having to fully comply with the FATF’s demands.

This time, however, the FATF president has said clearly that the country will remain on the list as long as it does not address the single remain-ing action (related to the investigation and prosecu-tion of senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups) as well as the items on a parallel action plan handed out by the watchdog’s regional partner, the Asia Pacific Group, in 2019.

Pakistan is also required to ensure that its law-enforcement agencies cooperate internationally to trace, freeze and confiscate the assets of the desig-nated individuals and entities. More political will is needed to fully comply with the two action plans as the lack of it is imposing heavy costs on the country.

The government must swing into action to fulfil the remaining conditions in order to avoid the serious consequences of delay and inaction.

The political community (Politicians) of Pakistan are still unable to perform their duties at exceptional basis towards prosperous Pakistan.

Regarding the status of Pakistan in front of world community, we want to ask why FBR’s most prestigious wing; INI (Intelligence and Investigation) do not take action before the tenure of a government end? The nation demands an answer from NABthat why it always takes the action after a certain government com-pletes its tenure? Why they do not take action against big real estate investors and business ty-coons and always demand more tax from a small business man. In Pakistan, fake and fraud compa-nies are existing moving through FBR and looting money by tax evasion.

The nation expects that the new Chairman FBR (Dr Muhammad Ashfaq Ah-med) will take serious action against all the fake companies registered with FBR as he has taken the oath to make Pakistan a prosperous country.

The inflation is at its peak with record breaking fuel prices of 127.30 in the history of Pakistan. A com-mon man is facing difficulties inboth ends meet as the fuel prices are directly related to inflation.

The nation being suffered since last 74 years demand trial of every person even politician involved in tax fraud and money laundering through proper interro-gation.

The Writer is a Senior Social Analyst &Chairman Pakistan Columnis ts Council
Can be Found [email protected]

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