Pakistan to start action plan to curb terror financing before June

Pakistan’s interior minister says the Islamic nation will expedite steps to curb terror financing and money laundering a day after the country avoided ending up on a terror watch list by a global task force. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2018
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Pakistan to start action plan to curb terror financing before June

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday, while talking to the media, that Pakistan has made all-out efforts to combat terrorism and will continue doing so. “We are fighting terrorism not to please the US, but for our own benefit,” he said.
Meanwhile, a top Pakistani official told Arab News that Pakistan has not been placed on the Financial Action Task Force's "grey list" during its meeting in Paris in the past few days.
“We will be placed on the grey list in June,” the official said who was representing Pakistan in the meeting in Paris.
He said that Pakistan’s foreign policy has been successful in heading off the motion co-sponsored by the US that was seeking to place Islamabad on the so-called grey list immediately.
The government official also clarified: “There is no chance of placing Pakistan on the blacklist even after June.” He said that Pakistan will be placed on the grey list only if a joint action plan with the FATF is not reached in June or Pakistan fails to cooperate with the task force.
 “The main objection of the FATF members to Pakistan was about implementation of its anti-money laundering laws,” the official said. “We are going to address this concern of the international community too through a cogent mechanism.”
Asif Ezdi, former Pakistan ambassador to Germany, termed the FATF action against Pakistan a political move pushed by the US and some Western countries.
“This is a warning for us,” he told Arab News. “We need to review our certain policies regarding terrorist financing to forcefully present our case at international forums.”
However, he defended Pakistan’s foreign policy, saying: “We are competing against powerful countries of the world with limited resources. Our ambassadors have been doing their best to highlight the achievements of Pakistan in the war against terror at international forums.”
Pakistan was on the FATF watch list from 2012 to 2015.
Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, renowned economist and former economic adviser to the Ministry of Finance, said the cost of doing business in Pakistan will increase significantly if Pakistan is placed on the FATF grey list in June.
“The implementation of anti-money laundering and terror-financing laws has been strengthened worldwide and this will impact Pakistan negatively if placed on the grey list,” he said.
Pakistan’s credit rating would be downgraded, the transaction cost of doing business will increase and foreign direct investment will get hampered as an immediate impact of being on the grey list, he said.
Khan said Pakistan was in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and also floating bonds in the international market to generate funds while being on the grey list during 2012-15, but “this will not be possible now, given the international situation.”
According to a statement issued by the FATF at the conclusion of its session on Friday, Pakistan does not feature on the list of the countries with strategic deficiencies posing a risk to the international financial system.
The list now features Ethiopia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tabago, Vanuatu and Tunisia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina have been moved to the white list.
The FATF is a UN-sanctioned inter-governmental body established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris. Its objectives are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The FATF currently comprises 35 members and two regional organizations, representing most major financial centers in all parts of the globe along with observer countries, organizations and associate members.
A senior Pakistani diplomat based in Europe, who is close to the team that represented Pakistan in the recent FATF meetings in Paris, also told Arab News that it was Pakistan's foreign policy that led to the success.
The Europe-based diplomat told Arab News that Pakistan will fully cooperate with the FATF and will work on an action plan between now and June. “We are sure that Pakistan will not be placed on the grey list even in June,” the diplomat asserted.


Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

In this Sept. 21, 2014 file photo, Denis Baupin, a prominent Green Party member and former Paris city official, takes part in a climate change demonstration in Paris. (AP)
Updated 20 April 2019
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Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

  • The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law

PARIS: A Paris court has dismissed a defamation case against six women who accused a former French lawmaker of sexual misconduct and the journalists who reported the allegations.
The court on Friday ordered Denis Baupin to pay 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages to each of the 12 people he sued.
In May 2016, investigative website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted or otherwise harassed them.
The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower House of Parliament but denied wrongdoing and launched a defamation lawsuit against the six women who were identified in the reports, some witnesses and journalists.
The case had been under particular scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Women rights activists have seen it as a test of French women’s ability to speak out when they think powerful men have sexually harassed or abused them — and how journalists can report it.
The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law.
In addition, it considered France Inter and Mediapart respected their additional obligations: the legitimacy of journalists’ goals in producing a story, demonstrating an absence of personal animosity, prudence and balance, and the quality of the investigation.
Most of the women who spoke about Baupin’s alleged behavior from 1998 to 2013 were fellow Green Party members, and outrage greeted their descriptions.
Four filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment at the time. A nine-month judicial investigation ended without charges. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired, but released a statement saying the women’s “measured, constant statements” and witness corroboration created a set of facts to support allegations of actions that “may for some of them be classified as criminal.”
The cleared women greeted the ruling with tears of joy and relief.
Lawyer Claire Moleon, a lawyer for one of them, told The Associated Press that “this is a great victory.”
“This is a very strong signal given by justice. It’s putting an end to a move that we were noticing to use defamation lawsuits to put more pressure on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” she said.
Moleon stressed that Baupin’s order to pay damages to the people he sent on trial shows that “sanctions apply” to such cases.
During the February trial, women had described, often with lots of emotion, their alleged harassment through text messages and inappropriate comments, and in some cases, alleged sexual assault attempts.
Some former officials of France’s Green Party also testified in court, saying they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct. They stressed that the #MeToo movement has raised their awareness.
Baupin’s lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, had argued his client did nothing illegal and had filed a defamation lawsuit to “fully clear his name.”
Baupin had decided not to attend the trial.