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Minister irked by ‘casual’ response to FATF, APG queries

Updated October 28, 2018

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Finance Minister Asad Umar.— DawnNewsTV/File
Finance Minister Asad Umar.— DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minis­ter Asad Umar has shown displeasure with stakeholders for their apparent failure to properly handle and respond to queries raised by global experts about efforts to curb terror financing and money laundering in Pakistan.

The minister was annoyed with the casual response of stakeholders, including officials of the Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau, National Counter-Terro­rism Authority and Anti-Narcotics Force, to queries of both the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Asia/Pacific Group (APG) in their recommendations.

“From now onward, I will convene a fortnightly meeting with each stakeholder to see progress on the recommendations of the global experts,” the minister said, adding that no lethargy would be tolerated in handling the serious issue involving possible placement of Pakistan on the FATF black list.

Wants enhanced institutional coordination to ensure timely implementation of action plan

Mr Umar criticised the representatives of stakeholders who attended a special briefing of the director general, Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), to review the actions taken so far on both the FATF Action Plan and APG on-sight assessment.

Both the FATF and APG have suggested measures to Pakistan for de-listing from the grey list of countries from September 2019. The APG has recently completed its on-sight assessment of Pakistan and handed over a report on key findings.

According to a source, Pakistan will submit first reply to the APG key findings by October 31. The next report of compliance will be submitted in November, the source added.

The meeting was informed that the FATF and APG were not satisfied with the responses of various stakeholders on the recommendations of the global bodies. The minister categorically asked the representatives of the relevant stakeholders to reply in a proper way.

“We have to reply in a manner which is acceptable to them,” Mr Umar said and wondered “why are we failing to satisfy them? We want to come out of the grey list”.

Pakistan had already done enough work in this direction, he said. “We have to complete the remaining work before the deadline,” he said.

According to the source, Mr Umar said Pakistan was not fully non-compliant. It is an on-going process to implement the remaining recommendations.

The source said it had been highlighted in the last meetings that Pakistan was mostly compliant in legislation of various laws for anti-money laundering (AML)/counter-terror financing (CFT) laws, but issues were mostly related to its implementation.

The laws are mostly there but there are issues related to structural arrangements for the effective implementation of these laws, the source said.

In August, the APG as part of the pre-site mutual evaluation identified a series of deficiencies in Pakistan’s AML/CFT laws and mechanisms. The report was sent to Pakistan with recommendations.

In response, Pakistan has already provided details of measures taken in compliance with the recommendations.

On Oct 5, Pakistan received another technical compliance annexure from APG which further highlighted deficiencies in the AML/CFT measures that Islamabad needs to take.

An official statement issued after the meeting said that Finance Minister Asad Umar presided over a meeting to review progress on FATF Action Plan and APG assessment. He emphasised the need to enhance level of institutional coordination to ensure timely accomplishment of FATF Action Plan.

The minister also desired appropriate and complete responses to APG’s follow-up queries. Further it was agreed to develop an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that all stakeholders concerned complete the assigned tasks within delegated timelines.

Mr Umar directed that all stakeholders may be advised to develop internal action plans which shall be monitored on a fortnightly basis.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2018

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