THE Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) on Saturday published its report on money-laundering and terror-financing in Pakistan showing that the country was fully “compliant” only on one aspect relating to financial institutions secrecy laws. It was found “partially compliant” on 26 recommendations and “largely compliant” on nine others.
The Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) comes a week ahead of FATF’s review meetings in Paris (Oct 13-18) that would determine whether Pakistan should remain or move out of the grey list or be put on the blacklist and apprehensions are being expressed by diplomatic circles that the country might be retained in the grey list, not because Pakistan has not made progress but due to undue influence that India has been allowed to exercise in the matter. The progress that Pakistan has made ever since it was put on the so-called grey list warranted removal of the country from that category but it has become abundantly clear during the last few months that India, whose five delegates are part of the Asia-Pacific Group, have been instrumental to portray Pakistan into negative light and belittle the achievements it had made on several fronts. It was on the basis of obvious leaks by Indian delegation that Indian media reported that the Group had made recommendation to put Pakistan on the black-list. This is despite the fact that Pakistan took a number of measures in line with recommendations of FATF, proscribed 66 entities and approximately 7,600 individuals under the Anti-Terrorism Act under the UN resolutions while State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan have enforced strict monitoring and regulations that have even created difficulties for people and companies. The Group itself has acknowledged that most banks and larger exchange companies have an adequate understanding of their AML/CFT obligations and have conducted internal ML/TF risk assessments, which means that effective measures and mechanisms are in place as far as anti-money launder and terror-financing is concerned. However, it seems that the platform of FATF is being used to pressurize Pakistan on other accounts, which have nothing to do with the working and objectives of the Task Force.