Washington: Pakistan has failed to complete its action plan on terror financing, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said on Friday, warning Islamabad to meet its commitment by October or face action, which could possibly lead to the country getting blacklisted.
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. In June last year, the FATF placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.
In a statement issued at the conclusion of its plenary meeting in Orlando, Florida, the FATF expressed concern "that not only did Pakistan fail to complete its action plan items with January deadlines, it also failed to complete its action plan items due May 2019". The FATF "strongly" urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by October 2019 when the last set of action plan items are set to expire.
"Otherwise, the FATF will decide the next step at that time for insufficient progress," the international financial body said leaving a strong warning to Pakistan. The FATF said Pakistan had taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/combating the financial terrorism) regime, including the recent development of its terroe funding risk assessment addendum.
However, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of Pakistan's transnational terror funding risk. Reacting to the FATF's warning, Pakistan on Friday said it was committed to taking measures needed to implement the action plan agreed with the FATF to come out of the grey list.
"The Government of Pakistan reiterates its commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure completion of the Action Plan in a timely manner," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
Noting that the plenary meeting of the FATF took place at Orlando from June 16 to 21, it said the meeting reviewed the compliance of a number of countries, including Pakistan with the international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML-CFT). FATF reviewed progress made by Pakistan towards the implementation of the Action Plan and acknowledged the steps taken by Pakistan to improve its AML/CFT regime and highlighted the need for further actions for implementing the Action Plan, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry said that the FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan's Progress in October 2019.
Pakistan should continue to work on implementing its action plan to address its strategic deficiencies, including by adequately demonstrating its proper understanding of the terror funding risks posed by the terrorist groups and conducting supervision on a risk-sensitive basis, the FATF said. It should demonstrate that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institution, it said.
It asked Pakistan to demonstrate that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS). It also asked Pakistan to show that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for terror funding.
Pakistan should improve inter-agency coordination including between provincial and federal authorities on combating terror funding risks and demonstrate that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terror funding activity, it said. It should demonstrate that terror funding investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities, it said.
The FATF asked Pakistan to demonstrate terror funding prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and enhancing the capacity and support for prosecutors and the judiciary.
Pakistan need to effectively implement targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services, it said.
The FATF said Pakistan needed to demonstrate enforcement against TFS violations, including administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases. It should demonstrate that facilities and services owned or controlled by designated person are deprived of their resources and the usage of the resources, it said.
The FATF currently has 36 members with voting powers and two regional organisations, representing most of the major financial centres in all parts of the globe. On May 3 last year, former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said India will ask the FATF to put Pakistan on a blacklist of countries that fail to meet international standards in stopping financial crime. China is set to secure FATF presidency next year while Saudi Arabia representing the Gulf Cooperation Council is to become a full FATF member.
Turkey was the only member that stood by Pakistan despite a strong campaign launched by the US, the UK, India and Europe.