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Pakistan Rejects ‘Fake News’ on Saudi Arabia’s Vote at FATF

by Newsweek Pakistan

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In statement, Foreign Office spokesperson says FATF will announce its assessment after concluding its plenary meeting

Pakistan on Thursday “categorically rejected” reports in some media outlets alleging that Saudi Arabia had voted against removing its name from the grey-list during the ongoing meeting of the Financial Action Task Force’s Plenary Meeting.

In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the story was “false and baseless” and maintained that the FATF would only announce its assessment of Pakistan’s progress after the meeting was conducted.

“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,” read the statement. “Pakistan greatly values its relations with the brotherly Saudi Arabia and firmly rejects such malicious propaganda,” it added.

A virtual meeting of the FATF, spanning Oct. 21-23, is currently underway and is expected to decide whether Pakistan will be removed from the grey-list based on its performance in meeting global commitments and standards against money-laundering and terror financing. The meeting has yet to conduct any vote, raising further questions over the provenance of reports on Saudi Arabia’s decision.

The FATF plenary was earlier scheduled for June but was delayed by the global watchdog against financial crimes due to the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pause in its review process granted Pakistan four additional months to meet requirements for whitelisting. The government, in a joint session of Parliament, last month passed laws it claimed were essential for the country to be whitelisted.

Pakistan was placed on the FATF’s grey list in June 2018 over deficiencies in its laws on money laundering and terror financing. The campaign for the status—which attracts greater scrutiny from global lenders—was led by India and supported by the U.S., the U.K. and some European countries. In its ongoing meeting, the FATF is to examine if Pakistan has demonstrated remedial actions to overcome its deficiencies. Experts believe it is highly unlikely it could be blacklisted, but might be retained on the grey list, as it has yet to implement six of the 27 points flagged by the FATF.

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