June 17, 2021 (MLN): Since the last FATF meeting in February 2021, Pakistan, has been in a constant struggle to prevent it from being added to the list of countries considered non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the global watchdog.
To recall, in the last meeting of FATF which was conducted in Paris on 22, 24, and 25, Feb 2021, a conclusion was made to keep Pakistan on the ‘Grey List’, as Pakistan still needed 3 out of 27 points to be fully addressed.
During the last meeting, a date was also decided that the country’s status would be reviewed again in an extraordinary plenary session to be held in June 2021.
Now that we have entered June 2021, the dates have been given from 21-25 June for the plenary sessions to discuss Pakistan’s remaining in FATF’s ‘Grey List’. According to media reports, a meeting was conducted on June 15, 2021, by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) regarding Pakistan’s FATF’s, where it was discerned that Pakistan has taken a step forward in improving the points in the FATF’s Action Plan. The 3 out of 27 points which Pakistan needed to be fully addressed were;
1. Demonstrating that TF (terrorism financing) investigations and prosecutions target persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities;
2. Demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate, and dissuasive sanctions; and
3. Demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists, specifically those acting for or on their behalf;
Now that improvement has taken shape in the form of two points which Pakistan has implemented out of the three as per ICGR but the problem still lies for Pakistan as the last point would take at least two to three months to be fully implemented, a report by Al Habib Capital Markets said.
Nonetheless, Pakistan will have the opportunity to put forward the ICGR report in the upcoming FATF’s plenary meeting where two factors could play a vital role in support of Pakistan from getting removed from the ‘Grey List. First, that Pakistan is on a road towards improvement, as it already has implemented two out of three remaining points, and the second that the geopolitical situation in Asia is seemingly in favor of Pakistan where recently we saw a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the report cited.
However, the fact that the third point might take a couple of more months to be implemented, the situation still remains unbalanced for the country. There is no chance that Pakistan could be placed under the Blacklist of FATF, as it enjoys the support of three major members of FATF including China, Turkey, and Malaysia that will sustain all pressures against any downgrade, but regardless of all the positives, the question still remains that will Pakistan be removed from FATF’s ‘Grey List’?
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