Pakistan suffered a major setback on Friday as the Asia Pacific Group (APG)- the regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – included it in the enhanced list of blacklisted countries.
After being found non-complaint in 32 of the 40 compliance parametres, Pakistan was placed in the enhanced expedited follow-up list after two days of discussions in Australia, during the FATF APG meeting.
"The APG has placed Pakistan on the Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Black List) for failure to meet its standards," Press Trust of India news agency quoted an Indian official privy to the development as saying.
A Pakistan foreign ministry official claimed the group evaluated the country and put it under observation for one year.
"Mutual evaluation is an annual process. Pakistan's actions are to be observed and reviewed after one year now," a Pakistan government official said.
This is separate from the FATF review, which will be decided at a plenary session in Paris in October 2019. Nevertheless, the Imran Khan government may find it very difficult to get the country off the FATF greylist considering the APG's Mutual Evaluation report will play a crucial role in whether Pakistan is removed from the FATF grey list or not.
Last month, Pakistan's principal revenue collection agency, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) established a FATF cell to gather information on reported incidents of terror financing through currency smuggling.
In June 2018, Pakistan was placed on the FATF grey list of jurisdictions, for not doing enough in the way of counter-terrorist funding and anti-money laundering measures. Subsequently, the country agreed to implement a new, time-bound action plan endorsed by the FATF.
The FATF, during its 3rd plenary meet in the US city of Orlando, Florida in June, highlighted that Pakistan had already missed two deadlines related to the implementation of the action plan announced in the previous year.
The Paris based inter-governmental organisation formed to check on money laundering across the globe has asked Pakistan to complete its action plan by October 2019, when the last set of action plan items are set to expire.
Blacklisting under the anti-terror funding watchdog could affect the country's response to requests for mutual legal assistance from foreign countries in money laundering cases.