The Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) reviewed Pakistan's third Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) that detailed measures taken by the government to counter terror-financing and money laundering from February 2018 to October 2018, a press release by the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
The MER was adopted by the APG — the regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — in its 22nd annual meeting that is being held in Canberra, Australia and will conclude on August 23. The Pakistani delegation was led by State Bank of Pakistan Governor Reza Baqir.
Pakistan is taking measures to exit the 'grey list' of FATF — where it was placed in August 2018 — by the mid of October.
While this meeting is not directly linked to Pakistan’s performance on its highest-level commitments with FATF on money laundering and terror-financing, its assessment report can indirectly impact the country’s position to move out of the 'grey list'.
According to the press statement by the finance ministry, the MER "identifies a number of areas where further actions are required to strengthen the AML/CFT framework". "The report does not cover the areas in which Government of Pakistan has made substantial progress since October 2018," the statement emphasised.
The Pakistani delegation briefed APG on the measures taken in "recent times" for improving its AML/CFT framework and the steps that were being taken to ensure successful implementation of the financial watchdog's action plan.
It also "welcomed engagement with the international community in its efforts to countering terrorism and money laundering" during the discussions held at the meeting.
Pakistan also briefed other member countries separately in bilateral meetings. Furthermore, the Financial Monitoring Unit signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Anti Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Centre (CAMLMAC) for the exchange of financial intelligence, the statement said.
A senior government official had told Dawn before the meeting that APG was currently conducting a five-year mutual evaluation of Pakistan’s progress on upgrading its systems in all areas of financial and insurance services and sectors.
Pakistan has submitted its compliance report on the 27-point action plan committed with FATF to the APG, which is reviewing its compliance on about seven areas mostly relating to financial and insurance services and facilities as part of an ongoing five-year review cycle. These areas cover safeguards against money laundering and terror financing by banned outfits and non-government entities through banking and non-banking jurisdictions, capital markets, corporate and non-corporate sectors like chartered accountancy, financial advisory services, cost and management accountancy firms, jewellers and similar related services.
The official had explained that the five-year review by the APG, which has been under way for nearly two years, would conclude on August 23. As part of this process, he added, the countries were given future targets in view of changing technologies, practices and latest techniques and scopes.
This will be followed by another round of mutual evaluations by the APG starting September 5 in Bangkok (Thailand) that would become a key basis of Pakistan’s final review by the FATF at its plenary and working group meetings scheduled for October 13-18 in Paris.