Pakistan gets breather as FATF extends deadline

Islamabad: In a much needed breather for Pakistan, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has extended the deadline for the country till the next plenary meeting, urging Islamabad to ensure compliance of 27-point action plan.

The extension in deadline of review of Pakistan’s progress to counter money-laundering and terror financing because of the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, made it almost impossible for assessed jurisdiction and assessors alike to conduct on-site visits and in-person meetings.

“The gravity of the COVID-19 situation globally and the consequent COVID-19 related measures that countries have adopted, such as confinement and travel restrictions, are making it impossible to assessors to conduct on-site and in-person processes. The FATF acknowledges these severe challenges that countries face at this difficult time”, an FATF statement said.

“The FATF Plenary has therefore agreed to temporarily postpone all remaining FATF mutual evaluations and follow-up deadlines.”

The next plenary meeting will be held after four months in October.

The COVID-19 pandemic has come to rescue Pakistan this time as the Imran Khan led government is still falling short on compliance of the action plan, handed by the FATF to comply and curb the menace of terror financing and money-laundering.

The Pakistan government is yet to pass amendments into its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Foreign Exchange Regulation laws from Parliament for complying with the FATF conditions.

Pakistan is also yet to incorporate amendments related to Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), which would ensure recorded and presentable steps taken to satisfy FATF on its progress.

As per government sources, “work is being done to being the required changes into different laws and the pending legislation bills vigorously”.

The FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018, placing at least 27 conditions for compliance review on September 2019.

Since then, Pakistan has been given extensions at least thrice of three months each as Islamabad failed to comply with the conditions, required to ensure its name is removed from the grey list.

As per latest updates on Pakistan’s compliance, only 14 points out of the 27 point action plan have been fully complied while remaining 13 points are still pending that need compliance done within the latest extension of three months.

The list of remaining 13 points still to be complied includes:

*Pakistan will have to demonstrate effectiveness of sanctions including remedial actions to curb terrorist financing in the country.

*Pakistan will have to ensure improved effectiveness for terror financing of financial institutions with particular to banned outfits.

*Pakistan will have to take actions against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS).

*Pakistan will have to place sanction regime against cash couriers.

*Pakistan will have to ensure logical conclusion from ongoing terror financing investigation of law enforcing agencies (LEAs) against banned outfits and proscribed persons.

*Pakistani authorities will have to ensure international cooperation based investigations and convictions against banned organizations (list provided to Pakistan) and proscribed persons (list provided to Pakistan).

*The country will have to place effective domestic cooperation between Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and LEAs in investigation of terror financing.

*Prosecution of banned outfits and proscribed persons (list provided to Pakistan).

*Demonstrate convictions from court of law of banned outfits and proscribed persons (list provided to Pakistan).

*Seizure of properties of banned outfits and proscribed persons (list provided to Pakistan)

*Conversion of madrassas to schools and health units into official formations (list provided to Pakistan).

*To cut off funding of banned outfits and proscribed persons

*Pakistan will have to place permanent mechanism for management of properties and assets owned by the banned outfits and proscribed persons (list provided to Pakistan).

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