ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday rejected as “false” the Indian media reports claiming Saudi Arabia voted against Pakistan during the ongoing plenary of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is being held virtually to decide, among other things the economic fate of the country.
Addressing his weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri “categorically rejected the story circulating on a segment of the media as false and baseless”, according to a press release.
Earlier in the day, Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister’s focal person for digital media, tweeted that report of Saudi voting against Pakistan during the full-scale review meeting was fake news and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) would issue a statement on this.
⚠️🚫 FAKE NEWS 🚫⚠️
Reportedly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue statement on this Fake News. pic.twitter.com/8PcZCr8HaQ
— Azhar Mashwani (@MashwaniAzhar) October 22, 2020
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong fraternal ties and the two countries have always cooperated with each other on all matters of bilateral, regional and international importance,” said the FO statement.
“Pakistan greatly values its relations with […] brotherly Saudi Arabia and firmly rejects such malicious propaganda.”
A virtual meeting of the global watchdog will decide if Pakistan should be excluded from the grey list, based on a review of Islamabad’s performance to meet global commitments and standards on the fight against money laundering and terror financing.
The Asia-Pacific Group (APG) of the body, in its first follow-up report (FUR) on the mutual evaluation of Pakistan earlier this month, had shown the country “improving” its full compliance on two of the 40 FATF recommendations. However, the APG report would have “no immediate bearing” on the on-going review.
The FATF plenary was earlier scheduled in June but Islamabad got an unexpected breather after the global watchdog against financial crimes temporarily postponed all mutual evaluations and follow-up deadlines in the wake of grave health risk following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Paris-based agency also put a general pause in the review process, thus giving additional four months to Pakistan to meet the requirements.
The plenary had formally placed Pakistan in the grey list in June 2018 due to “strategic deficiencies” in its anti-money laundering, combating financing terror (AML/CFT) regime after a push from India supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, and some European countries.
The body will examine if the country had demonstrated remedial actions and sanctions applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, relating to terrorist financing (TF) risk management and TFS (terror financing sanctions) obligations.
The FATF will also judge if competent authorities were cooperating and taking action to identify and taking enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS) and had proven implementation of cross-border currency and bearer negotiable instruments (BNI) controls at all ports of entry, including applying effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Pakistan has also to determine if law enforcement agencies (LEAs) were identifying and investigating the widest range of terror financing activity and that such investigations and prosecution target designated persons and entities, and those acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities besides showing terror financing prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.