A global dirty money watchdog on Friday kept Pakistan on the its ‘grey list’ of countries under increased monitoring, despite progress on tackling terrorism financing. FATF President Marcus Pleyer told a news conference that Pakistan remains under increased monitoring despite substantial progress addressing everything on a 2018 action plan except a last item concerning the investigation and prosecution of senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups. He added that Pakistan was still failing to put global anti-money-laundering standards into place. “This means the risks of money laundering remain high, which can in turn fuel corruption and organised crime,” he maintained. The FATF announced that Pakistan will continue to remain on the grey list till it addresses all items on the original action plan agreed to in June 2018 as well as all items on a parallel action plan handed out by the watchdog’s regional partner – the Asia Pacific Group (APG) – in 2019. Pleyer pointed out that ‘a separate process has been taking place over the past few years’ insofar as Pakistan was concerned. “Back in 2019, FATF regional partner, the Asia Pacific Group (APG), identified a number of serious issues during its assessment of Pakistan’s entire anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing system. Since then Pakistan has made improvements. This includes clear efforts to raise awareness in the private sector to money laundering risks and to develop and use financial intelligence to build cases.” But, he said, Pakistan is still ‘failing to effectively implement the global FATF standards’ across a number of areas. “That is why the FATF has worked with the Pakistan government to work on areas that need to be improved as part of the new action plan that largely focuses on money laundering risks. This includes increasing the number of investigations and prosecutions and making sure that law enforcement agencies cooperate internationally to trace, freeze and confiscate assets,” he said. “This is about helping authorities stop corruption and prevent organised criminals from profiting from their crimes and undermining the financial system and legitimate economy in Pakistan,” he added. The watchdog’s president, responding to a question, said all items on both action plans needed to be addressed and goals fulfilled for countries to exit the grey list. For Pakistan, Pleyer said, even after the last remaining item on the original action plan was addressed, delisting would not occur as there was a parallel action plan that was also given. He said this while responding to a question from an Indian journalist, who had asked if Pakistan would be delisted after addressing the single remaining item on the original action plan or if the five additional items added by the Asia Pacific Group would also need to be addressed. “As soon as this last remaining item of the [original] action plan is largely addressed, the members will decide whether they will grant an onsite [assessment] for this action plan. Usually once an onsite [assessment] has been successfully completed, the membership can decide on delisting a country. But in this case, we have a parallel action plan with all the action items in the second action plan. Then Pakistan must also largely complete all the items on this action plan and then there will be a separate onsite [assessment] to decide on this action plan,” he said. “So the delisting will not occur before both action plans are completed and two onsite [assessments] have been granted and successfully completed and have shown that the improvements are sustainable before the FATF members decide on delisting,” he added. A journalist asked him if it was discouraging for other countries to observe that despite making significant progress and completing almost all items on the action plan, Pakistan is still being maintained on the grey list. Responding to this, Pleyer said all items needed to be largely addressed for delisting to happen. “Our rules and procedures are very clear. All deficiencies must be addressed and it would also be discouraging if other countries fully address all their action plan items and then got off the list, and some countries got off the list before they have completed all the action items. So the expectation is clear, we treat all countries equally.” Meanwhile, Minister for Power Division Hammad Azhar on Friday said that Pakistan is not in danger of falling back to the blacklist of FATF. Addressing press conference, the minister said that Pakistan will not face any sanctions for being in the grey list. Although the FATF has announced that Pakistan would continue to remain in grey list but Pakistan has already completed 26 out of the 27 Action Plan items, he said, adding that compliance of last item would also be ensured before the next session of FATF scheduled in October 2021. He said the FATF, after discussion, decided to maintain the status quo for Pakistan and increased monitoring for 2018 TF Action Plan for remaining one item. He said FATF has also given a new seven-point action plan. The new action plan is focused on countering money laundering, which was relatively easy than the terror financing. “We have set a target to meet this in 12 months,” he said. He said world community and the FATF recognized the considerable progress made by Pakistan on action plan and Pakistan’s high-level commitment. He said there were 82 agenda items on the action plan, Pakistan received in 2018, which was on controlling terror financing. “We have completed 75 of these conditions, he added. He said considering the plan was very difficult, Pakistan was the only country that have worked at this pace. He pointed out that the Parliament passed 17 laws against terror financing and money laundering in 2020. Besides the legislation, many rules and regulations were also formed and multiple compliance efforts were made, he said. He credited the progress to FBR officials, security officials, ministries of foreign affairs, and finance, courts, prosecution, and police.