Pakistan is Ready for FATF As Meeting Approaches

Published February 24th, 2021 - 08:00 GMT
Pakistan is Ready for FATF As Meeting Approaches
The FATF plenary, which started is examining Pakistan’s compliance on FATF 27-point agenda on Monday, will conclude its proceedings and announce its final verdict on Thursday. (Shutterstock)
Highlights
Islamabad may be removed from grey list this week if FATF not insists on an on-site visit to verify the actions taken by the country
Pakistan looks set to exit the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list as it complies with the FATF recommendations, however, the Paris-based watchdog may link its decision to include Islamabad in its white list with an on-site visit of the group for verification of the steps taken against money laundering and terror funding, Khaleej Times has learnt.

 

The FATF plenary, which started is examining Pakistan’s compliance on FATF 27-point agenda on Monday, will conclude its proceedings and announce its final verdict on Thursday.

“Pakistan may have to stay in the grey list until a FATF team will submit a positive report by June after its on-site visit either in April or May,” sources said.

During the last FATF plenary in October 2020, Pakistan was given an extension for full compliance with the recommendations till the next session in February. It had not fully complied with six of the 27 directives, while the other obligations were largely met.

“Islamabad is expected to remain on the FATF grey list until June, but the decision to include in white list may be linked to an onsite evaluation by FATF team and its final submission can be used to convince the member-states that Pakistan had done enough to get its name struck off the ‘increased monitoring’ list,” sources added.

However, Pak diplomatic circles are confident of 100 per cent compliance over FATF regulations and expect a positive outcome this week.

“We have ensured 100 per cent compliance over FATF’s 27-point agenda and if an on-site visit is not required then we may be included in white list on Thursday,” according to an official.

On-site visit is important

Samiullah Tariq, head of Research and Development at Pakistan Kuwait Investment Company, said Pakistan is likely to include in white list by June after FATF team on-site visit.

“In my view, the best outcome could be that Pakistan is able to convince plenary to arrange an on-site visit for June and get out of grey list then. although the country ensured compliance on all outstanding items,” Tariq told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

“In my view, it was a long task, as there were a lot of items which involved a lot of coordination and change in mind set of some FATF members. However, convincing the global community that Pakistan has made required changes is another task and it would require a physical visit,” he added.

Action on drug financing

Dr Qais Aslam, Professor of Economics at Lahore-based University of Central Punjab, said Pakistan has done a great job in fixing laws and regulations as per FAFT procedures on money laundering.

“Pakistan has made significant headway in clamping on terror financing, but the country has done very little about drug financing. Therefore, it is still difficult for the country to get out of grey list when our enemies in FAFT are propagating against the white list. I think we will be given another few months to fight against drug financing,” Dr Aslam told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

In recent meetings of FATF, Pakistan has got support of Malaysia and Turkey besides China. If Islamabad comes out of the 'Grey List', it will be easy for the country to get financial aid from the international and multinational lenders such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, ADB and the European Union on easy terms and conditions to support its struggling economy.

Back on road to progress

Dr Shahid Hasan Siddiqui, chairman of Karachi-based Research Institute of Islamic Banking and Finance, said there is no doubt about the actions taken by Pakistan to meet FATF regulations on money laundering.

“Pakistan has made significant progress on the remaining six points out of 27-point FATF agenda. Now local regulations are so tight that it violates some basic rights of Pakistani citi-zens who face troubles in even depositing money into their own accounts due to strict vigilance of the central bank,” Dr Siddiqui told Khaleej Times.

He was convinced that Pakistan will get out of the FATF grey list but the decision will be de-layed until June this year.

“Islamabad may stay in grey list until June despite 100 per cent compliance over FATF agenda due to some other diplomatic reasons,” he said.

Former president of Pakistan Business Council Dubai Iqbal Dawood said it’s really a good news if the country comes out of FATF grey list.

“The credit goes to hard work and very hectic and long efforts of present government. It will remove many challenges and obstacles on road to economic progress and will ultimately benefit economy and boost exports. I trust this is a milestone towards success,” Dawood told Khaleej Times.


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