New Delhi: The global terror financing watchdog has decided not to remove Pakistan from the ‘grey list’ of countries which still had “very serious” deficiencies in its financial regime in implementing sanctions against proscribed terror groups and individuals.
The decision was announced at the end of the three-day virtual plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday.
At a media briefing, FATF resident Marcus Pleyer said, “Pakistan remains on the grey list.”
In a statement issued after conclusion of the plenary, FATF 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.”
Pleyer told reporters that Pakistan has made progress, “but it is clear that it needs to do more”. The FATF president noted that the six items left are “very serious deficiencies”, which include inadequacy in implementing sanctions against UN proscribed groups and individuals like Hafeez Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
If Pakistan is able to complete all the six remaining action points, then the plenary meeting in February 2021 will decide to send an on-site team to verify the implementation. Thereafter, if the team provides a positive evaluation, then FATF could take a decision in the next plenary meeting to remove Pakistan from the ‘grey list’, explained Pleyer.
According to sources, Turkey has apparently proposed to expedite on-site visit by a FATF team to Pakistan. But, it was not accepted by other member states – and the proposal was dropped.
The FATF statement listed four specific ways for Pakistan had to address its deficiencies. These are:
- demonstrating that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF (Terror Financing) 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 or 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 NPOs, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services; and
- demonstrating enforcement against TFS violations, including in relation to NPOs, of administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases
Pakistan had been put on the grey list – or listed as a ‘Jurisdiction under Increased Monitoring’ – in June 2018. It got a four-month extension in February this year to complete the action plan, which is drawn up after a country is put on the grey list.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the plenary in June was not held and Pakistan’s additional time period was extended to eight months.
Pleyer said that the extension given to countries on the grey list was not indefinite, but added that “as long as we see progress, we give them chance to repair outstanding issues”.
On Thursday, India had pointed out that “those found wanting in implementing their obligations” are usually “held accountable and subjected to appropriate action”.
The FATF plenary decided to remove Iceland and Mongolia out of the grey list, but Iran and North Korea remain on the so-called ‘black list’.