FATF starts reviewing Pakistan’s efforts against terror financing

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Sunday began review meetings to discuss Pakistan’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing.

The meetings of the international watchdog’s plenary and working group meetings will be held till February 21 in Paris and will focus on the global efforts to trace and prevent the illegal transfer of money which is used to finance terror and other crimes.

The meetings will also discuss the progress made countries such as Iran and Pakistan that “present a risk to the financial system”.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar is leading Pakistan’s delegation, which also includes members of both foreign ministry and interior ministry along with officials State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU).

Analysts expect Pakistan to either exit the grey list soon after winning a “largely-compliant” rating from the FATF or might get more time from the watchdog to ensure full compliance.

Pakistan will be judged by a FATF plenary meeting on the basis of the joint group’s report, for a possible exit from the grey list or at least avoiding the blacklist.

Reportedly, Pakistan needs only 12 out of 39 votes to exit the grey list. Pakistan has already gained full support from China, Turkey and Malaysia, and aims to obtain 12 votes with an escalated diplomatic campaign. Pakistan has ensured the significant implementation of most of the recommendations and took necessary actions.

On January 28, the SBP had stated that Pakistan had made significant progress to get off the grey list while the central bank had been making all-out efforts to curb money laundering and terror financing.

While announcing the monetary policy with an unchanged interest rate of 13.25pc, SBP Governor Dr Reza Baqir had said that the last two [FATF] reviews in May and September showed that Pakistan had made significant progress in most of the 27 points raised by the FATF.

However, he had maintained, the FATF was the final authority to decide if the progress was enough to pull Pakistan out of the grey list, adding that the country would have to continue making progress in this direction.

Last month, despite strict opposition from India, several FATF members, including the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), had expressed satisfaction on Pakistan’s performance report from October 2019 till January 2020.

The Pakistani delegation, led by Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar last month had presented the report in a meeting with the working group in Beijing and explained measures taken and progress made by the country in stopping funding of terrorists and eradication of money laundering since October last year.

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