Global terror finance watchdog seeks 150 clarifications from Pakistan

Global terror finance watchdog seeks 150 clarifications from Pakistan
FATF President Xiangmin Liu of the People’s Republic of China, chaired the first meeting under the Chinese Presidency of the FATF from 16-18 October 2019. (Photo Courtesy: FATF Twitter)
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Updated 23 December 2019

Global terror finance watchdog seeks 150 clarifications from Pakistan

Global terror finance watchdog seeks 150 clarifications from Pakistan
  • Pakistan “doing its best” to come out of FATF grey-list, official says
  • Islamabad was placed on FATF’s grey-list in June last year for its failure to curb terror financing

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government is ‘doing its best’ to prepare detailed answers to 150 clarifications and questions asked by Paris-based terror financing watch dog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in response to Pakistan’s progress report, top government officials said on Sunday.

Pakistan submitted its initial progress report to the Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the FATF on Dec. 3, regarding its implementation of the 27-point action plan. The report looked to answer shortcomings found in curbing terror financing during a previous review of the country.

“We are preparing to answer all the questions to the best of our ability,” Omar Hamid Khan, Special Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, told Arab News on Sunday. “We are trying to do the best possible, to get off the [FATF’s grey] list.”

Islamabad was formally placed on the FATF’s grey-list in June last year, after the 37-member global watchdog found deficiencies in the country’s legal framework to counter terrorism financing. Since then, the country has been struggling to plug loopholes in its financial system to satisfy the organization’s criteria.

The US had spearheaded the move to place Pakistan on the FATF grey list for its lack of actions against proscribed outfits such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Jamatud Dawa, both of which were accused of cross-border terrorism.

In its recent questionnaire to Pakistan, forwarded by a regional affiliate of the FATF, the APG has made a number of observations regarding action taken against seminaries affiliated with banned organizations or proscribed persons under the country’s anti-terrorism laws. It has also sought criminal record and lawsuits filed against proscribed outfits and persons.

“We are reviewing all the questions [sent by APG], will compile answers to each question and then submit it to the FATF by January 8,” Mansoor Hassan Siddiqui, director-general for the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of Pakistan’s central bank, told Arab News.

The FMU is Pakistan’s Financial Intelligence Unit, authorized to track all suspicious monetary transactions through banking channels and to alert relevant authorities to curb money-laundering and terrorism financing through official financial channels.

Siddiqui said that all relevant government departments were on board to meet the FATF requirements to get off the grey-list.

“We are bound to follow [the FATF’s] timeline [to implement the action plan] and hopeful to satisfy the watchdog in its next meeting,” he said.

The APG will review Islamabad’s response to its questionnaire in its next meeting scheduled to be held in Beijing between January 21 — 24. The FATF is expected to make a final decision on Pakistan’s status in its meeting in Paris in February next year-- where the country will either be removed from the grey-list or downgraded to the blacklist for failure to implement the given action plan within the stipulated time period.

According to the FATF charter, the support of at least three member states is essential to avoid blacklisting. India – Pakistan’s arch-rival and a co-chair of the joint group of FATF and APG – has been pushing for Islamabad to be downgraded.