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NEW DELHI: Pakistan is likely to stay on the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force's “grey" list until June, despite its efforts to muster support from members of the global terror financing and money laundering watchdog ahead of the body’s plenary session next week, the Express Tribune reported on Wednesday.

Continuation on the FATF's “grey" list means that Pakistan will not get any respite from difficulties in trying to access finances in the form of investments and aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union. This would further exacerbate its problems given its precarious financial situation.

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The FATF's Plenary and Working Group meetings, scheduled to be held from 21-26 February in Paris, is to decide on Pakistan's grey list status. Pakistan was placed on the “grey list" -- ie of jurisdictions requiring careful scrutiny -- in June 2018. It had been given a certain timeline to address global concerns about funding to terrorist groups operating on its soil by implementing 27 action points.

In October last year, the FATF had concluded that Pakistan had failed to fulfil six key conditions set by the watchdog including the failure to take action against terrorists Maulana Masood Azhar who heads the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The FATF had then said that Pakistan would continue on its “grey" list till February 2021. In a virtual press conference from Paris in October last year, FATF president Marcus Pleyer had said that Pakistan's failure to fulfil six of the 27 mandates has resulted in the country's continuation in the 'grey' list. "FATF will send a team for onsite visit once Pakistan complies with the remaining six conditions. Then only a decision will be taken if it comes out of the grey list or not," Pleyer said.

A PTI report on Friday last week quoted Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri as that the six conditions that the FATF was holding Pakistan accountable for had been “partially addressed" and “significant progress" had been made by Pakistan which was duly acknowledged by the wider FATF membership.

“Pakistan remains committed to completing its FATF Action Plan," he had said.

The Express Tribune report said though Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sounded optimistic about the outcome at next week’s FATF meeting, Pakistani officials were unsure of Pakistan exiting the “grey" list.

Ahead of the plenary meeting, Pakistan was engaging member countries for an on-site visit, which if agreed to, could brighten Islamabad’s chances of formally exiting the 'grey' list by June.

"If agreed, the FATF on-site visit will help Pakistan come out of the grey list by June this year," an unnamed senior Pakistani official was quoted as saying by the report.

Pakistan needs 12 votes out of 39 to exit the “grey" list and move up to join countries that do not require monitoring. To avoid “black" list -- a group which includes countries like North Korea that investors generally shun -- it needs support of three countries. China, Turkey and Malaysia have been backing Pakistan consistently.

The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. It has 39 members including two regional organisations -- the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.

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