ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Pakistan from its Grey list owing to its improvement in combating the twin menaces of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Paris-based FATF, the international body which sets standards for Anti-money Laundering/Combating Financing for Terrorism (AML/CFT), in its plenary meeting held in France removed Pakistan from the list which contained adverse remarks.
Pakistan was placed on the Grey list in February 2012 on the plea that the country was not fully compliant with the standards for effectively combating the twin menaces.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar welcomed the decision, saying “Pakistan’s removal from FATF Grey list is a timely and welcome development”.
On February 21, the finance minister also wrote a detailed letter to FATF president explaining the initiatives and actions taken by Pakistan in the last two years under the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government, urging him for proper recognition of the hard work, and to delist Pakistan from the Grey list.
Dar said the government has taken very seriously the menace of terrorist financing and taken measures to strengthen the regime and build capacity of the law enforcing agencies to pursue such cases.
He said Pakistan had not only completed the FATF action plan but also developed its own National Action Plan (NAP) to continually take counter measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The measures included increased enforcement against all proscribed organisations and individuals including those attempting to operate under new names, increased vigilance of non-profit organisations and enhanced capacity building of the authorities concerned to strengthen the implementation of recently reformed CFT law.
Dar further stated that Pakistan’s exit from the FATF Grey list would further encourage the inflow of foreign investment in the country and will provide grounds for better assessment of the nation's credit rating in the international market.
Meanwhile, the FATF in its decision about Pakistan said it welcomed Pakistan’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and noted that Pakistan had established the legal and regulatory framework to meet the commitments in its action plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF had identified in June 2010.
The FATF decision further stated that Pakistan was no longer subject to FATF’s monitoring process under its ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process. Pakistan would work with the Asia Pacific Group as it continued to address the full range of AML/CFT issues identified in its mutual evaluation report, in particular, fully implementing UNSC Resolution 1267, FATF said in its decision.
The finance minister said that Pakistan looks forward to continue to work with FATF and individual members for fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing in order to bring peace and provide security for life and property to people of Pakistan and the international community.
The present government has expended efforts in the last 21 months to create the conditions that have led to this much-needed vindication of Pakistan’s AML/CFT regime. All deficiencies in various facets of the regime were removed, including additional legislation to fill the gaps that existed between AML and CFT.
The most significant task was to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, enabling law enforcing agencies to pursue the cases of terrorist financing alongside anti-money laundering as well. The law was amended twice to bring it in line with the international standards set by FATF and the UN.
Equally important, Pakistan met the concerns of Asia Pacific Regional Review Group (AP-RRG) on enforcement actions against the UN-designated entities. Financial institutions have also been prohibited from providing any financial services to such entities and associated individuals. Personal accounts have specially been prohibited for the use of any type of charitable donations.
FATF’s Regional Review Group visited Pakistan in December 2014 for an onsite review of AML/CFT reforms and generally expressed satisfaction on technical compliance to the requirements of the FATF Action Plan to which the country had agreed.
The Pakistani delegation at the FATF plenary meeting strongly presented the country's case and convinced the FATF members about significant progress made by Pakistan in fully implementing the Action Plan.