The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has found that Pakistan has successfully complied with 21 out of 27 points of action. They have decided to keep the country on its ‘grey list’ until February 2021, the watchdog’s president said on Friday.
FATF President Marcus Pleyer announced the decision at a virtual press conference held after the body’s three-day plenary session came to an end on Friday.
The global watchdog reviewed Pakistan’s progress on the 27-point action plan for addressing anti-money laundering and terror financing in its plenary session that started on October 21.
In a statement issued after the plenary session concluded, the financial watchdog said: “To date, Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021.”
In its statement, FATF said that Pakistan needed to work on four areas to “address its strategic deficiencies”. Those include: demonstrating that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terror financing activity, which target designated persons and entities, and those who act on the behalf/direction of the designated persons or entities, demonstrating that terror financing prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf; preventing the raising and moving of funds including in relation to non-profit organisations; identifying and freezing assets; and prohibiting access to funds and financial services and demonstrating enforcement against violation of terror financing sanctions, including in relation to NPOs, of administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases. Shortly after FATF announced its decision, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar said that Pakistan had “achieved impressive progress” and congratulated federal and provincial teams “who have worked day and night even during the pandemic to ensure this turn around”.
The minister said that due to Pakistan’s progress FATF had “acknowledged that any blacklisting is off the table now”.
The FATF plenary was earlier scheduled in June but Islamabad got an unexpected breather after the global watchdog against financial crimes temporarily postponed all mutual evaluations and follow-up deadlines in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Paris-based agency also put a general pause on the review process, thus giving Pakistan an additional four months to meet the requirements.
In February, the FATF had given Islamabad a four-month grace period to complete its 27-point action plan, noting that Pakistan had delivered on 14 points but missed 13 other targets. On July 28, the government reported to parliament compliance with 14 points of the 27-point action plan and with 10 of the 40 recommendations.