Pakistan to remain on FATF grey list, Turkey backs Islamabad at plenary session

Pakistan will remain on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list. The decision was taken in the FATF’s plenary session after Islamabad failed to comply with all 27 parameters set by the task force.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the world’s top anti-terrorism monitoring group, on Friday voted to keep Pakistan on a grey list for failing to comply with six out of the 27-point action plan handed to it. In its first virtual press conference, FATF President Marcus Pleyer said, “They [Pakistan] have completed 21 out of 27. Pakistan has made progress but it needs to do more.”

Sources tell India Today that Turkey proposed during the FATF that members should consider Pakistan’s good work. Turkey went further to suggest that the Financial Action Task Force should dispatch an on-site team to Pakistan to finalise its assessment instead of waiting for the completion of the remaining six out of 27 parameters.

On-site teams of the FATF are permitted to make inspections only after jurisdictions complete their Action Plans. Normally, such a visit is a signal for exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s grey or black list.

None of the 38 members of the FATF seconded Turkey’s proposal for on-site inspections in Pakistan during the plenary session. These members include Pakistan’s closest allies- China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

This indicates that FATF on-site visits to Pakistan are off the table for now.

The Financial Action Task Force has decided to retain Pakistan on its grey list at least till the next review which is due in February 2021.

The sudden disappearance of more than 4,000 names from its original list of 7,600 terrorists from schedule IV of its Anti-terrorism Act contributed to the FATF’s decision on Pakistan. Other reasons included Pakistan’s inaction against UN-Designated terrorists, including Dawood Ibrahim, Maulana Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed and Zakir ur Rehman Lakhvi.

“As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021,” the watchdog said.

The FATF has further instructed Pakistan to demonstrate that its law enforcement agencies are identifying and prosecuting terror funding activity and those acting on behalf or at the behest of designated persons or entities. Pakistan has also been asked to prove that these prosecutions result in effective sanctions against all designated terrorists.

This will require Pakistan to prevent the raising and moving of funds, including in relation to NPOs by identifying and freezing assets and prohibiting access to financial services with respect to designated individuals and entities.

Pakistan has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018.

Responding to a Pakistani journalist’s question, members of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) FATF said, “There is no discrimination towards Pakistan. Two other countries Iceland and Mongolia however have been removed from the grey list.” The members, however, added that they feel Pakistan remains to be in ‘high-risk category’.

As of 2020, there are only two countries on the FATF’s black list- North Korea and Iran.

While addressing a press conference, FATF President Marcus Pleyer said, “Coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in terror financing and money laundering.”

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