Islamabad, December 19: Pakistan's government has agreed to take fresh steps to address the money laundering and terror-financing issues, in an effort to avoid being blacklisted by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ahead its crucial meeting next month, officials said.
Currently placed on the Paris-based FATF'S 'grey list', Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the FATF, a measure that officials here fear could further hurt its economy.
Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on anti-money laundering, where a report titled 'Terrorism Financing Risk Assessment' was presented. It was also the first comprehensive risk assessment report jointly prepared by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Saudi Arabia to Make Biggest Investment in Pakistan's History: Minister.
The meeting approved the findings of report that foreign funding, drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, robbery and bank heists were the primary sources of terror-funding in Pakistan.
Highlighting that the terror financing have roots outside Pakistan's borders, the report said the hostile agencies were fuelling terrorism in Pakistan by providing funding to sub-national terrorist groups.
Officials said that the report was prepared as part of implementation on 27-point action plan that the FATF handed over to Pakistan as a prerequisite to exit the grey list.
Out of these 27 actions agreed with the FATF, Pakistan is required to deliver on 10 points by January 2019. Officials said that most of the task set out by the FATF have been met and others will be fulfilled before the deadline.
They said the areas highlighted in the report would be addressed through legal and administrative actions in order meet the commitments made with the FATF.
The report says that the role of the law enforcement agencies was critical to implement these recommendations, particularly to curb the sources of terror financing, the sources said.
The NEC meeting was told that the issue of terror financing through crypto currency was addressed by the State Bank of Pakistan that already barred the financial institutions in dealing with crypto currency.
The FIA informed the meeting about actions taken to curb hawala business and action against bit-coin currency dealers, while the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan said that it had notified changes in the Intermediaries (Registration) Regulations, 2017 aimed at implementing the FATF requirements.
The meeting decided to speed up enforcement of action and following a result-based approach to meet the FATF obligations, officials said. Pakistan would submit a compliance report to the Asia Pacific Joint Group next month. The group will then present Pakistan's case in the FATF meeting in February 2019.
A team of experts from FATF's International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) is scheduled to visit Pakistan in the first week of January to assess the progress made by it on an action plan agreed in June to address global concerns.
The country will have to deliver on all the 27 points by September next year. In case it fails, Pakistan can be blacklisted, which carries serious financial implications.
By January 2019, Pakistan will also have to demonstrate effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions against the assets of the UNSC designated persons and entities and their affiliates.
These include Daesh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohmmad, Haqqani Network and persons affiliated with the Taliban.