Pakistan may remain on FATF list beyond February: minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan may remain on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) beyond February 2020, mainly because of its risk profile and in view of two simultaneous evaluations.

Senior officials provided this information to a parliamentary panel on Thursday. They also revealed that the government recovered only Rs5.6 billion in taxes on foreign assets worth about $7.4bn (Rs1.15 trillion) of Pakistanis reported by the international community under information exchange arrangements.

“Pakistan faces greater challenges than many other countries because of its risk profile,” said the minister responsible for economic affairs division, Hammad Azhar, while speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, presided over by MNA Asad Umar. He said that some countries had been removed from the grey list after just 80 per cent compliance while Pakistan was being pressurised to ensure 100pc compliance with the action plan.

Only Rs5.6bn taxes recovered from people owning assets worth Rs1.15tr abroad.

“Pakistan is being viewed from a very high threshold; there is a political element to this,” he said, adding that Afghanistan was not on the FATF grey list. The minister said Pakistan was taking timely steps to meet the FATF targets as it was partially compliant on 22 of the 27 points in the action plan and non-compliant on five targets of the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).

Pakistan will submit its next report on its action plan to the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) by Dec 7. The APG will return the report with its questions and feedback by Dec 17. Islamabad will be required to respond to these observations by Jan 7.

Pakistan’s technical team will attend a meeting of the APG joint working group in the third week of January to address any further questions and concerns. The joint working group will then submit its report to the FATF by end of January and the FATF plenary to be held by mid-February would finally decide whether Pakistan should be removed from the grey list or not.

Mr Azhar said the government was optimistic that it would achieve sufficient progress for the country to be removed from the grey list, but then it was also being reviewed simultaneously for a 40-point action plan of the APG for which the deadline was October 2020.

He said it was not clear what would the FATF decide about the intervening period — between February under the ICRG and October 2020 under the APG. He said there was a possibility that Pakistan would remain on the grey list until October next year even if it complied with the action plan for February.

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