Prelims 2021 Prelims cum Mains Security Issues

Pakistan to remain on FATF ‘grey list’ until February

In News:

  • After its latest review, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘grey’, or ‘increased monitoring’, list.

About: Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
  • It is also termed as “international terror financing watchdog”.
  • The FATF Can be seen as a “policy-making body” which works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF has developed a series of recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and terror financing.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Members:

  • Currently, FATF consists of 39 members, including
    • 37 member jurisdictions with voting powers
    • Two regional organisations – the European Commission and the Gulf Co-operation Council
  • India is a member, as well as important countries like China, US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
  • Interestingly, Hong Kong is also a separate member jurisdiction.
  • Pakistan is not a member.
  • Indonesia is an FATF Observer.
  • Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), Eurasian Group (EAG), Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT) etc. are FATF Associate Members.

Functions:

  • Sets international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures
  • Assesses and monitors compliance with the FATF standards
  • Conducts typologies studies of money laundering and terrorist financing methods, trends and techniques
  • Responds to new and emerging threats, such as proliferation financing

Lists maintained by FATF

  • FATF maintains two different lists of countries:
  • Grey List:
    • This refers to countries under “increased monitoring” by the FATF.
    • These are countries that have deficiencies in their Anti Money Laundering /Counter Terrorist Financing (AML/CTF) regimes but they commit to an action plan to address these loopholes.
      • For example, Pakistan was made to commit to a 27 point action plan.
    • There are eight countries in Grey list: Pakistan, Ethiopia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
    • As per the FATF charter, fifteen members need to support a country’s move off of the greylist.
    • Impact:
      • Though ‘grey-listing’ a country doesn’t amount to international sanctions, countries will be wary of investing in grey-listed knowing that it is not a jurisdiction seen as compliant with FATF rules.
  • Black List:
    • The FATF black list means the country concerned is a “high risk jurisdiction” and “non-cooperative” in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
    • There are two countries in the blacklist: Iran and North Korea.
    • As per the FATF charter, to stay off of the FATF blacklist, the support of at least three of a total of 36 (excluding two regional organisations) FATF members is required.
      • For example, Pakistan has often managed to stay off the blacklist with the support of China, Malaysia and Turkey.
    • Impact:
      • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
      • Companies planning to invest in blacklisted countries will find it difficult to raise money or will have to pay higher rates of interest while borrowing to invest.
  • Note: Following grey listing, three reviews are conducted, followed by a round at which it will be decided whether a country is to be blacklisted.

Background:

  • In June 2018, FATF placed Pakistan on enhanced monitoring process or the ‘grey list’, because of its deficiencies in the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime.
    • Grey-listed countries are those whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Pakistan was given a 27-point action plan that was to be implemented by September 2019, with its progress on these 27 points to be monitored by the FATF Asia-Pacific sub-group (APG).
  • In February 2019, FATF continued the ‘Grey’ listing of Pakistan.
  • In August 2019, APG put Pakistan in the Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist) for its failure to meet its standards.
  • If Pakistan does not act based on the action plan of FATF, it could be placed in the Blacklist that comes with stringent restrictions on its financial system.
  • In October 2019, FATF retained Pakistan on the “grey list” but gave a stern warning that Pakistan will be blacklisted if it does not fulfil the global standards criteria for combating terrorist financing by February 2020.
  • In February 2020, Pakistan stay on the FATF ‘grey list’ was extended until June 2020.
    • The International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) of the FATF recommended that Pakistan be retained on the “Grey List”, given its failure to completely implement the 27-point action plan to check terror financing.
    • Pakistan was also told it could go into the ‘black list’ if it failed to complete its 27-point action plan.
  • In June 2020, the FATF plenary held through video-conferencing, the FATF plenary decided to postpone decisions on all countries under grey-list and black-list till October 2020.

News Summary:

  • After its latest review, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘grey’, or ‘increased monitoring’, list till February 2021.
  • This was mainly due to Pakistan’s failure to address 6 items in its 27-point action plan to check terror-financing.
    • One of the items where Pakistan failed relates to action against UNSC proscribed terrorists like Masood Azhar.
  • At the FATF plenary, India highlighted that Pakistan continued to provide a safe haven to terrorists and that it had not acted against the likes of Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, all proscribed by the UNSC.
  • FATF described the fact that Pakistan had not yet complied with 6 important items in the action plan as “serious deficiencies”.
  • The agency acknowledged progress made by Pakistan in mostly addressing 21 items on the action plan related to terror-financing and money laundering.

Way ahead:

  • The agency urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan by February 2021 as all FATF action plan deadlines have already expired.
  • Most of the six remaining issues are related to terror-financing.
  • FATF asked Pakistan to address its strategic deficiencies by taking effective action against all UN 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf by:
    • Demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions 
    • Preventing the raising and moving of funds including in relation to NPOs (non-profit organisations)
    • Identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services
  •  If Pakistan stops showing progress in addressing the action plan, it could be blacklisted by the FATF.
  • The agency also asked Pakistan to work on implementing its action plan by demonstrating that its law enforcement agencies were identifying and investigating the widest range of terror-financing activities.

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