Pakistan focused on buying more time to avoid FATF blacklist: report

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar and his team will on Tuesday defend the performance of Pakistan on key issues highlighted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related to the measures the country is adopting against terror financing and money laundering.

According to a report published in The News on Tuesday, a meeting of the joint working group of the financial task force will start today in Beijing, with the delegation from Pakistan focused on buying more time to avoid a black-listing by the body that might hurt investment in the country.

The meeting will continue for three days (January 21 to 23) in which the 17-member delegation is participating with the objective to defend its compliance report on 22 major action plan points given by the global watchdog to gauge the performance.

Pakistan, in its compliance report submitted earlier, had apprised the joint group of FATF that as many as 500 terror-financing-related cases had been registered in Pakistan, out of which 55 ended up in conviction in the courts of law.

“The State Bank of Pakistan imposed penalties on defaulting banks and the statutory sanctions regime was implemented. The mandatory currency declaration scheme was also implemented at all airports of the country,” the FATF was informed.

The global terror-financing watchdog was also informed that under the new reforms, madrassas were granted the status of schools, where students would now be awarded matriculation and intermediate education certificates.

The country had dispatched its 120-page detailed reply along with annexure details of 500 pages to the Joint Group of FATF for sharing progress on 22 points.

The FATF, in the last plenary meeting, had shown satisfaction over 5 points of the action plan out of a total 27, and kept the country on the grey list up to February 2020.

“Pakistani authorities are expecting the FATF plenary meeting will show satisfaction over more action plans,” sources said on Monday,adding that the country was making progress towards implementing all points of FATF action plan.

Pakistan is expecting that the FATF may grant another relaxation to the country, probably up to June or September 2020, in its upcoming plenary review meeting, as the February deadline is too short a period for Pakistan to comply with all remaining 22 points of the action plan.

Pakistan has so far successfully managed to avoid the blacklist due to diplomatic support from China, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries. Pakistan requires just three votes out of a total 39 members of the FATF forum to avoid falling into the blacklist.