APG midterm review
Asia Pacific Group (APG) has released its third midterm review report which indicates not so satisfactory performance by Pakistan in the domain of anti-money laundering and counter terror financing. It shows that Pakistan did not comply on four out of 40 recommendations for curbing money laundering and curbing terror financing. The report was released a week before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meetings that have been scheduled for 12-18 October in Paris. It will be decided in these meetings as to whether Pakistan should be moved out of the greylist, remain on this list for a further period or shifted to black list.
Remaining on the grey list will tighten risk profile of Pakistan and some foreign financial institutions will find it difficult to do transactions with banks of the country. It will also shy away multilateral donor agencies from extending liberal financial assistance to the cash strapped Pakistan. The Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund Tersa Daban Sanchez had cautioned in a seminar in Islamabad against the greylist impact on the current Extend Fund Facility of the donor agency.
A Pakistani delegation led by former Federal Secretary Finance Mohammad Younis Dhaga had attended the APG meeting at Guangzhou, China in May this year. The delegation has to face harsh question over the administrative and legal measures so far taken to curb the twin menace of money laundering and terror financing. India enjoy a clout in the APG and its representatives raised tough questions about Pakistan’s seriousness to act against proscribed organisations and effectiveness of internal control in anti-money laundering and counter terror financing regimes.
The world powers like the Unites States and UK on the one hand twist the arms of Pakistan on the issue of money laundering but on the other hand the legal systems of these countries make very difficult the retrieval of laundered money to the developing countries to which it belongs. Prime Minister Imran Khan has referred to these legal lacunae in his speech at UN General Assembly which encourage which and virtually provide protection to the scourge of money laundering. Moreover, the governments of the world provide patronage to the high profile money launders against extradition. In the UK Financial Crime Act had come into force in September, 2017. However, the request of present government of Pakistan about the extradition of absconder former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is not being entertained by the British Home Department. On the contrary, the request of political asylum of Mr. Dar is being sympathetically considered. What does this duplicity signify? Might is right because in the prevailing US led World Order, corrupt political elites are installed as elected rulers in a developing country like Pakistan in the garb of democracy and they are bailed out through NROs.
The PTI government has taken robust administrative measures to streamline the existing institutional framework to curb money laundering. The law enforcing agencies and financial regulatory institutions has done a commendable job in this regard. But for strengthening the legal framework fresh legislation is required for which the government need the support of opposition parties including PML-N and PPP and that parliamentary support is not forthcoming because of the disqualification of former Prime Minister and PML-N defacto Supremo Nawaz Sharif Panama Papers case and ongoing investigation against PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari in mega money laundering case which was done through fake bank accounts. An accused in this case has struck plea bargain with NAB. It is pertinent to mention that “Economic Reforms Act” of July 1992 restricts the powers of financial regulators to check the menace of money laundering. The Act was passed and enforced in the first tenure of PML-N government and the Law Minister Dr. Farogh Naseem once hinted at bringing amendment in it in a current affairs programme of a private TV Channel which did not materalise due to razor thin majority of PTI led ruling coalition in the parliament. But the bitter fact remains that no escape route may be available from the sanctions of United Nations Security Council Resolutions numbering 1297 and 1373. It is moment of introspection for the opposition parties which have decided to start protest marches against the government.