The federal government has decided to increase the number of anti-Benami zones under the control of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in the country to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) conditions aimed at curbing money laundering and terror financing.
The FBR officials said that a proposal is under consideration to increase the number of anti-Benami zones in the country from three to seven. Currently, such zones are working in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, while the new zones will be opened in Hyderabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar.
A legal team and logistical support have also been sought for the new anti-Benami zones, the officials said, adding that proposals for making the adjudication authority more efficient were also under consideration.
Pakistan has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018, working to comply with the requirements of the watchdog to combat money laundering and terror financing.
Since then, when Pakistan made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Asia/Pacific Group to strengthen its anti-money laundering/combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and to address its strategic counter terrorist financing-related deficiencies, Pakistan’s continued political commitment has led to a significant progress across a comprehensive CFT action plan.
Pakistan has completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 action plan. The FATF encouraged Pakistan to continue to make progress to address, as soon as possible, the one remaining item by continuing to demonstrate that TF investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terrorist groups.
In response to additional deficiencies later identified in 2019 APG Mutual Evaluation Report (MER), in June 2021, Pakistan provided further high-level commitment to address these strategic deficiencies pursuant to a new action plan that primarily focuses on combating money laundering.
Since June 2021, Pakistan has taken swift steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime and completed six of the seven action items ahead of any relevant deadlines expiring, including by demonstrating that it is enhancing the impact of sanctions by nominating individuals and entities for UN designation and restraining and confiscating proceeds of crime in line with Pakistan’s risk profile.
The FATF urged Pakistan to continue to work to address the one remaining item in its 2021 action plan by demonstrating a positive and sustained trend of pursuing complex ML investigations and prosecutions.