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Pakistan confirms FATF will place it in terror financing ‘grey list’ in June

The FATF has asked Pakistan to take additional steps to curb money laundering and terror financing and the country will cooperate with the Paris-based watchdog in every possible way.

world Updated: Feb 28, 2018 19:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan,terror financing,Hafiz Saeed
File photo of Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal.(Twitter)

Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to include it in a watchlist of nations not doing enough to curb terror financing and said it will come up with an action plan to tackle the problem.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told a weekly news briefing in Islamabad that the financial watchdog had decided to place Pakistan on its “grey list” during a plenary meeting in Paris last week.

“Pakistan will be placed on the grey list in June, but there is currently no chance of placement on the black list,” Faisal said, adding an action plan to eradicate terror financing is being prepared and will be shared with the FATF.

The FATF has asked Pakistan to take additional steps to curb money laundering and terror financing and the country will cooperate with the watchdog in every possible way.

There was considerable confusion in Pakistan after the FATF voted at the plenary to place Pakistan on the grey list and the matter was not mentioned in the official statement issued after the meeting. Officials said this was because certain formalities, such as the framing of an action plan, need to be completed before Pakistan’s inclusion in the watchlist.

A move backed by the US, the UK, Germany and France to put Pakistan in the grey list was blocked during preliminary discussions at the FATF meeting by China, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

After the US and its allies intervened with China and Saudi Arabia, which was voting on behalf of the GCC, and the matter was put to vote again, Pakistan was backed only by Turkey. The development embarrassed Pakistani leaders, including foreign minister Khawaja Asif, who had tweeted that the country had been given a reprieve.

Faisal said Pakistan has taken steps to remove deficiencies in its regime to counter money laundering and terror financing. He cited the presidential ordinance that was quietly passed days before the FATF meeting to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act to include all UN-listed individuals and entities in Pakistan’s list of banned groups and persons.

Critics say Pakistan has done virtually nothing to control fund-raising and recruitment by the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, declared as fronts for the Lashkar-e-Taiba. They also say Pakistan has not cracked down on LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan was included in the FATF’s grey list in 2012 and removed three years later, after it took some steps to counter terror financing. Pakistan will now have to follow come up with an action plan by May. Once the FATF approves the action plan, it will make a formal announcement about placing Pakistan in the grey list in June.

If Pakistan fails to submit an action plan, or if the plan is not accepted by the FATF, it faces the possibility of being placed in the black list along with North Korea and Iran.

Inclusion in the grey list means all international financial transactions involving Pakistan will face greater scrutiny.

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 18:57 IST