The Pakistani government has finally established a separate unit to ensure effective and timely completion of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Action Plan by February next year.
The new Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Unit is set up at Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters “in order to ensure effective and timely completion of Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-related action plan”. The unit is to function under the supervision of Director General (DG) FIA.
The unit is very much in step with a recommendation that an experts’ round table at the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) had made on the 22nd of March, this year.
“The FIA should be designated as the national focal entity to promote meaningful co-ordination, better reporting, quality investigation and effective prosecution,” recommended the group including former security officials Dr Sohaib Suddle, Ehsan Ghani, Maj.Gen (retd) Ijaz Awan, economist Sakib Sherani and CRSS executive director Imtiaz Gul.
A few serving government officials also provided their input into these recommendations on the effective implementation of the FATF Action Plan.
Other recommendation had included updating of State Bank’s current regulatory frameworks to mitigate risks of money laundering terrorism financing, minimise hawala transactions, currency smuggling.
The group had also recommended the preparation of a mitigating Risks Matrix for high-risk sectors in relation to money laundering and terror financing as per National Risk Assessment 2018.
“The FATF compliance unit will serve as the focal point for all activities related to the FATF action plan,” an official notification issued on October 29 said.
The FIA has already transferred 11 officers to the compliance unit with immediate effect to “to seek information, officers and record of meetings from different zones.”
FATF requires Pakistan to comply with the entire Action Plan by February 2020 to be considered for extraction from the watchdog’s Grey List. It was placed on the grey list for terrorist financing and money laundering risks after an assessment of the country’s financial system and security mechanism. Now the country needs at least 15 out of 38 votes to get out of the grey list.
A copy of the notification allowing for the formation of the unit can be found below: