BY HAMZA AMEER
Islamabad, Oct 23 (IANS) Pakistan’s hopes of satisfying the global watchdog on terror financing and money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), were dashed on Friday as the global body ruled against taking Pakistan off the ‘grey list’ and gave Islamabad time till February 2021 to comply with its 27-point action plan.
The decision was taken on Friday during the virtual plenary meeting of the FATF.
“Since June 2018, Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and the APG to strengthen its AML/CFT regime and to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies. Pakistan’s continued political commitment had led to progress in a number of areas in its action plan.
“Taking action to identify and sanction illegal MVTS, implementing cross-border currency and BNI controls, improving international cooperation in terrorist financing cases, passing amendments to the ATA to increase the sanctioning authority, financial institutions implementing targeted financial sanctions and applying sanctions for AML/CFT violations, and controlling facilities and services owned or controlled by designated persons and entities,” read the FATF decision on Pakistan.
FATF has reiterated that Pakistan needs to continue working on the implementation of its action plan and address its strategic deficiencies, which include:
* Demonstrating that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are identifying and investigating the widest range of terrorist financing (TF) activity and that TF investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and those acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons and entities.
* Demonstrating that TF 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 organizations (NPOs), identifying and freezing assets (movable or immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.
* Demonstrating enforcement against TFS violations, including in relation to NPOs, of administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases.
While the decision by the FATF has clarified that Pakistan’s only way out of the grey list is by complying with the 27-point action plan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that it was India’s desire to see Pakistan slipping into the black list, adding that New Delhi’s plans have failed.
“India’s plans to push Pakistan into the black list of FATF will fail because of the steps the country has taken to meet the requirements of the global money laundering and terror financing watchdog”, he said.
“I can say this with confidence, India will fail in its designs to push Pakistan into the black list. The world has acknowledged today that the incumbent government and parliament had taken concrete steps regarding the FATF action plan,” Qureshi added.
He also claimed that Pakistan had complied with at least 21 points out of the 27 points mentioned in the action plan, hoping that the world would acknowledge the steps taken by the country.
Pakistan has long complained on what it claims as India’s ongoing diplomacy aimed at seeking enough votes to push Islamabad into the FATF black list. However, Qureshi claimed that Pakistan’s efforts and commitment have “yet again failed New Delhi’s designs”.
BY HAMZA AMEER