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Retaining on FATF’s list

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to retain Pakistan on the “increased monitoring list”, also known as the grey list, till it completes the action plan. This 27-point comprehensive action plan included taking action against money laundering and terror financing including banned outfits.

Pakistan was left with just a single item on the original action plan but has now been handed a parallel action by the watchdog’s regional partner – the Asian Pacific Group. Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, who is leading Pakistan’s efforts to come off the list, has expressed confidence that Pakistan will complete the new requirements within a year. So it remains Pakistan will stay on until then.

Pakistan was retained on the list despite “significant improvement” but still needs to take action on the investigation and prosecution of senior leaders of UN-designated terror groups. According to FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer, the risk of money laundering remains high which can fuel corruption and organized crime and eventually undermine the economy of Pakistan.

Pakistan will now have to enforce six action items which include sanctions, increasing investigations and confiscating assets of those involved in money laundering and terror financing. Pakistan would only be delisted if it has addressed both action plans. The sword of the grey list now hangs over Pakistan until it can satisfy the global institution.

Foreign Minister Qureshi has expressed his disappointment saying there was no room to retain Pakistan on the grey list and it needs to be looked into whether the FATF was being used for political purposes. He said it is in Pakistan’s interests to stop money laundering and terror financing, but expressed concerns that some powers were using FATF as a weapon against Pakistan.

Pakistan has been on the grey list since 2018. Countries on the list don’t have economic sanctions but it keeps foreign investments away due to the fragile situation. Investors need to have full confidence which can only be assured if Pakistan is removed from the list. Pakistan has reportedly suffered a loss of $38billion since it was added to the grey list. This has also affected our ambitions for economic growth and prosperity.