Pakistan has been cold-shouldered by more than two dozens of countries on the requests seeking mutual legal assistance to tackle terrorism-financing, money laundering, and cyber terrorism to meet the Financial Action Task Force’s (FAFT) conditions and recommendations.
Pakistan has sent more than 232 official requests to two dozen countries under its mutual assistance laws in the last three years, according to a detailed official response submitted by local authorities to the FAFT, a Paris-based anti-money laundering, and terrorism-financing organization.
In its response, Islamabad informed FAFT’s top management that its Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) and law enforcement agencies have detected the origin of terror financing to these countries but failed to obtain sufficient legal information or assistance to proceed with the investigation.
“An offense wise division of all 232 MLA [Mutual Legal Assistance] outgoing requests and specific details with respect to the number of requests, subject matter, and recipient countries are annexed at section A of Annex-IO-2.1.3…that are of high money laundering and terror financing risk…but no encouraging response received from these countries,” suggested the response, demonstrating a focus on those countries in which geographical risk is higher.
Pakistan’s FMU has made 34 international requests for information in March this year. Pakistan has requested assistance from the UK, France, Cyprus, Afghanistan, UAE, Canada, Netherlands, Serbia, Cayman Islands, and Iran since August 2020. 30 requests following directives of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA).
The FMU also received 23 requests from different countries, to which it duly responded, revealed Pakistan’s response. It further added that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent five requests involving proceeds of money laundering and corruption to Switzerland, Hong Kong, The UK, Australia, and Lebanon.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) sent eight requests involving corruption to the UAE, the UK, USA, Canada, Switzerland, France, and Seychelles, the official response revealed. The FIA also sent requests involving money laundering and the use of Hawala to Malaysia, the UAE, China, Japan, the UK, UAE, and Hong Kong during this period.
“The majority of outgoing MLA requests, as described below, are based on targeting cross border money laundering and terrorism financing investigations in domestic proceedings, specifically with respect to fundraising/funding for terrorist activities and funding for prohibited organizations and Madrassas,” revealed the official response. “This aligns with the findings in the National Risk Assessment 2019 which found that the overall terrorism financing risk level for Pakistan is very significant and that a large segment of the non-profit organizations sector in Pakistan is seen as having a very significant inherent vulnerability for terrorism financing.”
All relevant agencies have sent MLA requests to various jurisdictions in accordance with their mandates.
The Ministry of Interior has sent 148 requests on money laundering and terrorism financing and two MLA requests for the provision of Beneficial Owner information. NAB has sent 72 requests with respect to corruption offenses and money laundering.
According to the report, outgoing 86 requests were for fundraising for banned organizations, 17 requests for extortion, 19 requests for narcotics, 10 requests for cash smuggling, 72 requests for corruption, three requests for NR smuggling, nine requests for illegal MVTs, 12 requests for cyber terrorism, three requests for BO, and one each for fraud and KFR. 27 to the United Arab Emirates, 54 to Afghanistan, 11 to the United Kingdom, 5 to Bahrain, 5 to Qatar, 4 to Oman, one to Myanmar, 2 to Malaysia, 5 to Saudi Arabia, 2 to Bangladesh, 3 to Switzerland, 4 to the United States, 2 to Malaysia, 3 to Kuwait, one or two each to Iraq, the Netherlands, Syria, Turkey, Mauritius, Lebanon, France, Canada, Norway, Seychelles, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Austria, Poland, Australia, Belgium, Sweden and Columbia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Malaysia respectively.
The FMU also sent 36 requests for information to its counterparts.
Pakistan discussed the activities of these persons and terrorist groups with the 1267 Sanctions Committee, according to an answer. Pakistan has frozen nearly $972 million in assets linked to proscribed organizations.
The Pakistan Listing Committee meets every quarter and holds special meetings and continues to work on the identification of targets for designation proposals, including associates of the UN-Designated Terrorist Persons and Entities.
The response continued to reveal that Pakistan has an effective domestic sanctions regime in compliance with UNSCR 1373. Pakistan has put in place mechanisms enabling the designation of terrorist organizations and persons associated with terrorism at the national level, it said.
These individuals were removed from Pakistan’s domestic sanctions list during Pakistan’s review of its Fourth Schedule (2019-20), but authorities remained to watch them for any signs of recidivism until they returned to Afghanistan, according to the response.