The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will decide whether to remove Pakistan from its grey list when its plenary session takes place in Paris on October 20-21.
Among other issues on the agenda, the FATF will examine the assessment of an on-site team that visited Pakistan in September to verify the steps taken by the country to implement the plan of action.
In September, a 15-member FATF team quietly visited Pakistan, a final step before the country’s exit from the grey list. The findings of the team would be discussed and reviewed in the next meeting of the FATF in its upcoming plenary session.
The positive outcome of the onsite team’s findings would allow Pakistan to finally come clean over deficiencies in the system to curb money laundering and terror financing.
Official sources confirmed that the FATF team, which was given a state guest-level protocol, stayed in the country from August 29 to September 2. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved a special grant of Rs7 million for FATF Secretariat to provide the FATF team accommodation, food and travel.
The visit was kept under wraps but sources said the FATF delegation held meetings with the relevant authorities and verified the steps Pakistan had taken to fulfil the conditions of international financial watchdog on money laundering and terror financing.
The FATF, in June, had hinted at Pakistan’s removal from the grey list after it concluded that Pakistan complied with the 34-point plan of action and agreed to send its team for the verification of those steps.
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Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 for deficiencies in its system to curb money laundering and terror financing. It was first given a 27-point action plan and later another 7-point plan to comply with the FATF’s standards.
The major stumbling block was the prosecution of certain UNSC designated individuals accused of terror financing. Just days before the June plenary FATF meeting in Berlin, Pakistani anti-terrorism court convicted Sajid Mir in terror financing case, something that convinced the FATF members to acknowledge Pakistan’s progress.
Pakistani officials were confident that the FATF team would give positive assessment of the country’s progress. Officials, however, cautioned that the neighbouring country might still use its influence to drag Pakistan’s case.
The United States is believed to have played a key role in ensuring the onsite visit for Pakistan as it expressed satisfaction with the country’s measures to curb terror financing, particularly prosecuting the certain individuals.
The exit from the FATF grey list will restore Pakistan’s image and give confidence to the foreign investors for doing ventures in the country. The grey-listing makes it hard for countries to do financial transactions and raises the cost of doing business.
Pakistan’s likely removal from the grey list will help give impetus to its struggling economy.
Originally published at tribune.com.pk