Pakistan ‘unprepared’ to convince FATF’s team over 26-point action plan

ISLAMABAD: As a team of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has arrived here to evaluate the implementation on teh 26-point Action Plan, Pakistan is reportedly facing difficulties in convincing the team over the plan.
According to reliable sources, the Ministry of Finance, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) do not have an international legal expert related to money laundering. “To deal with the experts of Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, we need similar experts. Unfortunately the country has not hired anyone so far to satisfy the visiting team of FATF,” the sources informed Pakistan Today.
“Though SBP is trying to satisfy the team as per the measures taken against money laundering, the NACTA, FIA and others are reportedly facing difficulties in satisfying the visiting foreign experts. Instead of legal consultants, the Minister of Finance is dealing with the FATF team,” said the sources adding that unfortunately, the team of Asia Pacific Group is visiting Pakistan at a time when the country is undergoing a democratic transition of governments and the caretaker setup is not interested in facing such responsibilities.
An insider claimed that the visiting team has termed various replies of different institutions unsatisfactory terming them similar to what were given to it in 2014-15.
According to sources, the visiting team is scheduled to visit Karachi on Thursday.  After completing its visit, it will be submitting the report to FATF. A similar team, according to sources, may visit Pakistan in March 2019 and FATF will decide about Pakistan’s inclusion in blacklist by June 2019. The delegations would stay in Pakistan till August 17 as the ongoing review would be accomplished on August 16, and then they would return back next day.
When contacted, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance said that an independent body –  the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) was presently dealing with the visiting team of Asia Pacific Group. Though the FMU is an independent body, however, the ministry is supervising its affairs. The visiting team was yet to meet caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar, he said.
The FMU officials avoided responding on the subject.
It may be recalled here that the FATF team is presently in Islamabad to review the progress made by Pakistan on the action plan it issued earlier this year to counter money laundering and terror financing.
The six-member delegation, comprising members of Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, arrived here on August 13 on the first such trip by FATF after Pakistan was officially placed on its greylist.
Pakistan was formally added to the ‘grey list’ of countries involved in providing monetary assistance to terrorism and related causes after a FATF meeting in Paris in June.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
Early on Monday the Pakistani law enforcement agencies had reportedly briefed the FATF team about the proposed steps under which the penalty will be doubled and the imprisonment period will be increased through legislative amendments with the approval of newly parliament, the paper said.
Pakistan had submitted a comprehensive 26-point action plan to the FATF to choke the funding of militants groups, including Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamat ud Dawah and its affiliates, to avoid being blacklisted by it.
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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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