‘Pakistan near to complete FATF ‘toughest’ action plans’

FATF PAK 1 - ‘Pakistan near to complete FATF ‘toughest’ action plans’

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar has said that Pakistan is near completing the action plans given by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to ensure compliance in line with its standards.

Addressing the participants of the first ‘Assessors Course’ at National FATF Secretariat on Wednesday, the energy minister vowed that Pakistan would continue with ‘improvement processes’ for regional and world safety, even after completing the FATF action plans.

“Two toughest action plans were given to Pakistan and we showed excellent performance in a short span of time, and now we are near to completing both tasks,” he further said. Hammad, who is also chairman of Pakistan’s Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Group, said that Pakistan is playing a key role in the global fight against terrorism, its financing and money laundering.

Referring to the FATA action plans, he said that Pakistan learned a lot from this challenge, converting it into an opportunity to improve the existing system. “This assessors’ course is part of it as we want Pakistan to have the local capacity to assess the public and private institutions dealing with financial flows,” he added.

He expressed confidence that Pakistan’s assessors, after getting training, would not only be able to represent the country at the international level but also provide services to other countries. He said this assessor’s course is a good development which shows Pakistan’s increasing compliance and commitment towards the FATF.

With these measures, Hammad said, Pakistan’s future generations would benefit due to lasting peace in the region and world. “It will greatly help check the menace like money-laundering, through which billions of dollars of poor countries are illegally shifted to other countries every year,” he added.

National FATF Secretariat Director General Khawaja Adnan Zahir, in his welcome address to the concluding session of Pakistan’s first 9-day Assessors Course, highlighted the importance of the training for law enforcement agencies and other departments, keeping in view the massive challenges the country faced over the last three years.

He said that during the past decade, the global AML/CFT landscape has changed tremendously and regulatory checks on it have increased. “The economic and political image of many countries have been tainted because of issues like ML/TF [Money Laundering & Terrorism Financing],” he said, adding Pakistan has throughout been one of the most affected countries from ML/TF issues due to numerous reasons.

The Financial Action Task Force on October 21 last announced that it is retaining Pakistan on the grey list while noting that “good progress” has been made in completing the required action items for removal from the list.

FATF President Dr Marcus Pleyer said that Pakistan has two concurrent action plans with a total of 34 action plan items. “It has now addressed, or largely addressed 30 of the items,” he said.

“It’s a most recent action plan from June this year which largely focused on money laundering deficiencies was issued after FATF’s regional partner APG (Asian Pacific Group) identified a number of serious issues. Overall, Pakistan is making “good progress” on the new action plan, he said, adding that of the 7 new items, four have been “addressed or largely addressed”.

He said this includes showing that financial supervisors are conducting on-site and off-site checks on non-financial sector businesses and enacting legislative amendments to improve international cooperation.

Dr Pleyer also spoke of Pakistan’s earlier action plan, dating back to June 2018, and which focuses on terrorist financing issues, “Pakistan is still assessed to have largely addressed 26 out of 27 items”.

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