FATF to take a call on Pakistan's efforts to counter terror financing tomorrow
FATF’s latest plenary is also being held at a time when the US has been irked by the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will on Thursday take a call on Pakistan’s efforts to counter terror financing and money laundering, with the country widely expected to be retained in the multilateral watchdog’s “grey list”.
FATF will conclude its three-day virtual plenary meeting on Thursday, following several rounds of meetings of its working groups since February 11. Some of these meetings have focused on the latest report submitted by Pakistan regarding compliance with FATF’s 27-point action plan that was drawn up after the country was placed in the grey list in June 2018.
At its last plenary in October 2020, FATF concluded that Pakistan had fully complied with 21 of 27 points in the action plan but warned the country that it could not be given “forever” to address outstanding issues. As all deadlines for the action plan had expired, FATF had urged Pakistan to deliver on all 27 points by February 2021.
The Australia-based Asia-Pacific Group (APG), a key regional affiliate of FATF, had also concluded before the last plenary meeting that Pakistan was fully compliant with only two of 40 recommendations to counter terror financing and money laundering.
In recent months, Pakistan has taken several steps to fully implement the action plan, such as prosecution of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and his aides in multiple terror financing cases and the amendment of financial and terrorism laws, though officials of India and several Western countries remain unconvinced these actions are enough to address the shortcomings in the country's regime for curbing terror financing.
FATF’s latest plenary is also being held at a time when the US has been irked by the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh, the principal accused in the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, and Pakistan’s ties with France have hit a new low following a prolonged row over the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.
Both the US and France played a key role in efforts to put Pakistan in FATF’s grey list and to subsequently get the country to deliver on the watchdog’s action plan. Experts said the irritants in Pakistan’s ties with these two countries could become a factor in the ongoing plenary meeting.
However, Pakistan is banking on the support other key countries, including China and Turkey, to ensure it isn’t moved into the “black list”, which would entail harsher sanctions.