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Pakistan looks set for FATF white list either in February or June

Muzaffar Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on February 23, 2021
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.

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 to implement its 27-point agenda

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 grey list until an 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 an 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, Pakistan diplomatic circles are confident of 100 per cent compliance with FATF regulations and expect a positive outcome this week.

“We have ensured 100 per cent compliance over the 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.

Dr Ashfaq Hassan Khan, member of the Economic Advisory Council, which is headed by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said Pakistan has done “an outstanding job” to meet FATF conditionalities on money laundering and terror financing.

“I don’t see any justification to keep Pakistan in grey list. If the FATF decides to continue to keep Pakistan in grey list, it will be a political decision and compromise the basic purpose of Financial Action Task Force,” Khan told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.

On-site visit is important

Samiullah Tariq, head of Research and Development at Pakistan Kuwait Investment Company, said Pakistan is likely to be included 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 the plenary to arrange an on-site visit for June and get out of the 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 citizens 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 is convinced that Pakistan will get out of the FATF grey list but the decision will be delayed 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.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com





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