FATF puts 150 questions to Pakistan

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Pakistan has received 150 questions from the Joint Group of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in response to its submitted report, mainly seeking some clarifications, updates, and most importantly action against the madrassas belonging to the proscribed outfits.

“Yes we did receive a response from the FATF on our compliance report through an email message in which they raised a set of 150 questions. Some of them are seeking more data, some clarifications, and most importantly questions related to madrassas and actions taken against them having affiliation with proscribed outfits,” a top official sources confided to The News Saturday night.

Pakistan has been given January 8, 2020 deadline for replying to these 150 questions. The Joint Group has raised questions about the compliance report submitted by Pakistan. Now the face-to-face meeting of FATF is scheduled to meet in Beijing from January 21 to 24, 2020 where Pakistan will be given an opportunity to defend each point written in its compliance report.

Pakistan is expecting that the FATF may grant another relaxation probably up to June 2020 in its upcoming plenary review meeting, as the February deadline is too short a period for Pakistan to comply with all remaining 22 action plans.

The FATF had already granted Pakistan extension till February 2020 in a meeting in October this year.

The task force kept the country on its grey list for an extended period up to February 2020 and warned that it would be put on the blacklist if it did not comply with the remaining 22 out of 27 points related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.

Pakistan has so far successfully managed to avoid the blacklist due to diplomatic support from China, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Middle East countries. India had failed to convince the world powers that Pakistan was not cooperating with the watchdog related to terror financing.

The joint working group of the FATF declared Pakistan as largely compliant on 10 points, but the FATF plenary meeting accepted Islamabad’s compliance only on five points out of 27 action plans.

The FATF said all deadlines in the action plan had now expired. Noting recent improvements, the FATF again expressed serious concern over the overall lack of progress by Pakistan to address its terrorist financing (TF) risks, including remaining deficiencies in demonstrating a sufficient understanding of its transnational TF risks, and more broadly, the country’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the TF risks emanating from the jurisdiction.

Pakistan has only largely addressed five of 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the rest of the action plan. The FATF strongly urged the country to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020.

“Should significant and sustainable progress not be made across the full range of its action plan by the next plenary, the FATF will take action, which could include the FATF calling on its members and urging all jurisdictions to advise their FIs (financial institutions) to give special attention to business relations and transactions with Pakistan,” the FATF said in a previous statement.