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The fact that Pakistan has continued to avoid being relegated to its black list is quite an achievement


June 28, 2021

Pakistan is still not out of the FATF’s grey list, but the fact that it has continued to avoid being relegated to its black list is quite an achievement – something that demonstrates the country’s commitment to ensuring compliance with the global watchdog’s action plan. The FATF has cleared Pakistan on all but one of the 27 points on the action plan assigned in June 2018. But that has not proven enough for Pakistan to get an all-clear from the anti-money laundering taskforce. And now while Pakistan is expected to address the single remaining item on the original action plan, it has also been told to come good on a parallel six-point action plan which was handed out by the watchdog’s regional partner, the Asia Pacific Group, in 2019.

This do-more call came last week in a virtual press conference held after a five-day plenary meeting presided over by FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer. While the FATF acknowledges Pakistan’s “efforts to raise awareness in the private sector to money laundering risks and to develop and use financial intelligence to build cases”, it believes the country is still “failing to effectively implement the global FATF standards” across a number of areas which “means risks of money laundering remain high which in turn can fuel corruption and organised crime”.

So what, specifically, is the new task for Pakistan that a fresh seven-point plan entails? Well, Pakistan is now required to increase “the number of investigations and prosecutions” and ensure that its law enforcement agencies cooperate with international organisations “to trace, freeze and confiscate assets” of organised criminals from profiting from their crimes by undermining the financial system and legitimate economy in the country.

So while the gruelling quest for a much sought-after FATF white list continues, it is doubtlessly a blessing in disguise. In fact, in the process of satisfying the Paris-based task force in order to avoid its blacklist, Pakistan has fast-tracked its efforts to curb money laundering and terror financing and made significant progress to a huge benefit to its national economy.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2021.

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