FATF to review Pakistan's progress against financial violations


World, South Asia

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will review whether Pakistan has made enough progress on global standards against financial crimes.

Achieving 27 targets under an action plan is top priority for Imran Khan, say officials. (Photo:AP)

Islamabad: A group of experts from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will review whether Pakistan has made enough progress on global standards against financial crimes to warrant its exclusion from the watchdog's grey list.

The Paris-based global body is working to curb terrorism financing and money laundering and has asked Pakistan to reassess the operation of banned terrorist outfits in the country. Pakistan is under intense international pressure to rein in terror groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) after the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

In June last year, the Financial Action Task Force had placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.

The delegation of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) will reach Islamabad today and meet officials this week to see the progress, the Dawn reported.

"The meetings will start on Tuesday and will end on Thursday," Finance Ministry spokesman Dr Khaqan H Najeeb said.

He said the APG assessment team would meet officials from the State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, National Counter Terrorism Authority, law enforcement agencies and counter terrorism departments.

He said experts from the ministries and other key institutions would get an opportunity to explain and convince the assessors about Pakistan's performance.

The country has taken certain steps since the February 18-22 meetings with FATF functionaries to comply with latest instructions to meet various deadlines in order to avoid being included in a blacklist.

It declared as "high risk" all the eight entities and related elements specifically named by FATF as threats to the global financial system.

Achieving 27 targets under a 10-point action plan has now become a top priority for the Imran Khan-led government, the report said.

Pakistan has written to FATF president Marshall Billingslea to appoint any other member as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific's Joint Group, in place of India, to ensure that the FATF review process is fair, unbiased and objective.

The Joint Group is a sub-body of the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of the APG. Pakistan is a member of the APG and its case is being presented before the FATF by the APG.

India's Financial Intelligence Unit's (FIU) director general is the co-chair of the Joint Group.

The government has so far fined six banks and started investigations against 109 bankers for opening "fake" bank accounts.

Memorandums of understanding are being signed with the UK, Qatar, the UAE and Australia for sharing of intelligence, the newspaper said.

Pakistan is also trying to improve coordination among different agencies of the government through centralised software, the news report added.

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