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New Delhi: Pakistan moved a step closer to getting out of the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force, with the international watchdog agreeing to an ‘on-site’ visit after certifying that Islamabad has completed the implementation of its action plans.
Pakistan has been on the list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s “Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring”, known colloquially as the ‘grey list’. Countries in this list are determined to have “strategic deficiencies” in implementing an effective legal regime to combat money laundering and terror financing.
After the plenary ended on Thursday in Berlin, FATF announced that since Pakistan had largely completed its action plans, it qualified for an on-site visit at the “earliest possible date”.
“At its June 2022 Plenary, the FATF made the initial determination that Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained, and that the necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future,” said the FATF statement on the outcomes of the plenary related to countries on the ‘grey list’.
As per the FATF procedure for removal from list for increased monitoring, a country must first address “all or nearly all” of the components of its action plan. The FATF decided that Pakistan had met all its requirements at the plenary.
The next step in the review process is for the FATF to organise an on-site visit. “If the on-site visit has a positive outcome, the FATF will decide on removing the jurisdiction from public identification at the next FATF plenary,” said the guidelines.
Articulating the reason for the pat on Pakistan’s back, the FATF statement claimed that Islamabad had demonstrated that terror financing investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups. Further, it observed an “upward trend in the number of money laundering investigations and prosecutions being pursued in Pakistan”.
According to Pakistani media, the sentence of 33 years, awarded to Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed on terrorism charges by an anti-terrorism court in April this year, may have played a part in convincing the FATF that Islamabad had turned a corner.
“In addition, Pakistan also largely addressed its 2021 action plan ahead of the set times,” said the FATF statement.
At the post-plenary press conference, the outgoing FATF president Marcus Pleyer said the on-site visit would be conducted by experienced experts who have been handling the Pakistan file for a while. “They are very familiar with the documentation, relevant persons in the country. So I am pretty sure that our colleagues will exactly know what kind of questions they can ask, and they have experience with on-site visits in other countries,” he said.
Pleyer added that he was confident that the on-site inspection team to Pakistan would “give accurate and clear results”.
Pakistan’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who led the official delegation in Berlin, said that this marks the “process of leaving the grey list as per FATF procedure”.
“It will be our full effort that this technical evaluation team will be able to visit and complete its process before the October 2022 plenary cycle…We hope that we will be able to exit the grey list at October 2022 plenary,” she said.
#FATF has acknowledged completion of Pakistan’s both Action Plans (2018 & 2021) and has authorized onsite visit to Pakistan, as final step to exit from FATF’s grey list: MOS for Foreign Affairs @HinaRKhar @ForeignOfficePk pic.twitter.com/pUsfDSILlk
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) June 17, 2022
In Pakistan, the principal opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, were quick to claim credit for FATF deciding on the on-site team, with former prime minister Imran Khan pointing out that his government had completely implemented 32 out of 34 action plan points.
PTI’s govt completed 32 out of 34 action items. We submitted compliance report on remaining 2 items in April based on which FATF now declared Pak's Action Plan as completed. Chairman PTI @ImranKhanPTI tweets about the recent session: #ThankYouImranKhan pic.twitter.com/KArnQ26zbQ
— PTI (@PTIofficial) June 17, 2022
There has been no official response from the Indian government till now.