In its 22nd annual meeting at Canberra, Australia, the Asia Pacific Group, a FATF style regional body on anti-money laundering and counter terror financing, adopted Pakistan’s mutual evaluation report which contained measures which had been taken against this twin menace during the period August-October, 2018. Governor State Bank Reza Baqir led Pakistan’s delegation in the meeting. However, APG has again identified certain deficiencies in anti-money laundering and combating terror financing regimes. If Pakistan could not remove these inefficiencies till the next meeting of APG which will be held from September 5 in Bangkok, Thailand to evaluate next mutual evaluation report about the implementation of FATF 27 points Action Plan then there is likelihood that Pakistan’s period on the grey list may be extended in the upcoming plenary session of FATF which will be held in Paris in October. There is also a probability that a new action plan of around 150 points may be provided for strict implementation for exit from the greylist.
Robust administrative measures have been taken in the post October 2018 period against the proscribed organisations including JamatulDawa and other outfits. The bank accounts of these organisations have been freezed. Hospitals, schools and immovable properties of banned organisations have been taken over by the government. A supervisory framework comprising the relevant agencies of federal and provincial governments has been put in place for effective coordination among them. Moreover, FATF cell has been established headed by the Director General Custom Intelligence at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the prevention of terror financing. The cell will collect information from the field formations of FBR about the implementation of measures against terror financing.
It appears that international community and particularly the United States (US) is not satisfied with the robust administrative actions which had been taken against the proscribed organisations in the shape freezing their bank accounts, talking over their schools, hospitals and charity facilities in addition to the arrest or detentions of leaders of these organisations. A US delegation in its recent visit of Islamabad has asked Pakistan to take more concrete and once for all end result oriented administrative and legal measures against these organisations to choke financing from informal channels to the banned outfits if it wants exit from the grey list in which the country was included in June last year in Paris meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting. The message was conveyed by the US delegation to the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh during discussion with him early this month. Certain provisions of the Protection of Economic Reforms Act of 1992 has served as a vehicle for money laundering in the past and despite the known intention of the present government for amending this peace of legislation no forward movement is visible.
Getting out of the greylist has also been described inevitable twice by the Islamabad based representative of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Ms Teresa Daban Sanchez in her speeches at Sustainable Development Policy Institute and at National Press Club for smooth disbursement of $ 6 billion loans of this multilateral lending agency. The IMF letter of comfort is a mandatory requirement for obtaining economic assistance from other multilateral lending institutions including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and acquiring private finances from the global market.
There is no escape route from the sanctions against money laundering and terror financing which have been included in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions numbering 1267 and 1373. The way-out lies in establishing a strong legal and institutional framework to achieve the desired results from the anti-money laundering and counter terror financing measures.