Pakistan avoids terror financing blacklist for now

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a rally to express solidarity with Indian Kashmiris, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Tensions between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed countries, has increased since Aug. 5, when India downgraded the autonomy of its side of Kashmir and imposed tighter controls on the area. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

PARIS   An international monitoring agency has given Pakistan four months to prove it is fighting terrorism financing and money laundering _ or it could be put on a damaging global blacklist.

The Financial Action Task Force also threatened Iran, which is already blacklisted, with even tougher restrictions on its international financial activity.

The FATF’s announcement Friday on Pakistan offers a reprieve to Prime Minister Imran Khan as he works to shore up his country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans.

But the agency’s assessment remained grim, expressing “serious concerns with the overall lack of progress by Pakistan” to stop terrorism financing.

In a statement after meetings this week at its Paris headquarters, the FATF said Pakistan has addressed only five of 27 measures required to avoid being blacklisted.

If Pakistan doesn’t act by February, FATF president Xiangmin Lui said the agency could put the country on its blacklist, which currently includes only Iran and North Korea.

Experts say the move means every international financial transaction with Pakistan will be closely scrutinized, and doing business in Pakistan will become costly and cumbersome. International agencies could place restrictions on lending money to Pakistan, including key creditors such as the International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Pakistan has not done enough,” Xiangmin told a news conference.

Pakistan should do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers, the FATF said.

Meanwhile, it expressed “disappointment” that Iran isn’t taking the necessary steps to be removed from the blacklist and said it’s asking all member countries to tighten scrutiny of any financial transactions involving Iran.

Virtual currencies such as bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra are also prompting concern from the FATF, which warned of “new risks” from such products. It said they’re being “closely monitored” to ensure they’re not used to finance terrorism or launder money.

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