Pakistan’s delegation – led by Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar – will hold talks with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Asia Pacific Group (APG) in Bangkok on Monday (today) for a final evaluation of its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) report. 

Pakistan’s 15-member economic team will submit replies to 125 questions of the APG, which had been summoned in order to take Pakistan out of the grey list. A session of cross-questioning would also be held during the talks between the two sides.

Sources privy to Pakistan authorities have revealed that the danger of being relegated to FATF blacklist has been averted.

Particular emphasis has been placed on measures the state has adopted and implemented for freezing the assets of banned organizations, curbing the financing of banned outfits and legislation for restricting money laundering.

A report will also be reviewed on steps taken by the country for monitoring all welfare organizations’ at the federal and provincial levels by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). Furthermore, the methods implemented for compiling the records of welfare organizations’ assets will be analyzed by the FATF.

The FATF had also asked Pakistan to ensure registration of businesses of gold, other jewelry and precious stones, and the condition of holding National Identity Card (NIC) has been termed “must” for doing such business activities.

The Asia-Pacific Group will analyze Pakistan’s targets and implementations over its overall recommendations. Pakistan will argue its case and present its final defense. The decisive report will be forwarded to the FATF after the meeting.

Sources familiar with the matter told the media that the outcome of the talks would decide whether Pakistan’s name stayed on the grey list or would it be added to the black list.

The session will be headed by China’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) chief and an analytical report of Pakistan’s performance will be presented. India’s FIU head will also be present in the meeting.

Pakistan’s name in the grey list means that Pakistan would be required to submit follow-up reports to the APG on a quarterly basis.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a high-powered 12-member National FATF Coordination Committee to ensure execution of all FATF-related tasks till Dec 1.

Led by Hammad Azhar, the committee comprises federal secretaries of finance, foreign affairs and interior besides heads of all the institutions and regulators concerned with money laundering and terror financing. They include the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), chairman of SECP, director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), member (customs) of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and DG of the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU). The committee also has three senior officials from the military’s General Headquarters (GHQ).

“The committee is mandated to steer the national effort on FATF,” said a notification issued by the Prime Minister Office.

Before the establishment of the committee, the federal finance minister or the PM’s adviser on finance, as the case may be, and the secretary of finance used to lead all activities relating to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) to meet targets set by the FATF and its regional affiliate Asia-Pacific Group (AGP) under a comprehensive action plan to move out of the grey list of the global watchdog on financial crimes.

Pakistan is currently being monitored at three different but interlinked levels - APG, the United States and the FATF - that would determine the country’s possible exit from the FATF grey list.

The next FATF session will be held in Paris by the end of October.