Senegal, Morocco and Caymans added to terrorist financing watchlist

PARIS (AP) – An international agency that monitors terrorist financing has kept North Korea and Iran as the only two countries on its blacklist, but added four new places to its watchlist for increased surveillance, the organization’s president said Thursday.

The Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, added Morocco, Burkina Faso, Senegal and the Cayman Islands to the watch list during a plenary session this week, and kept Pakistan on the list despite progress country, said agency president Marcus Pleyer.

With the four additions, the so-called gray list currently includes 19 countries and territories which, according to the FATF, only partially comply with international rules on combating terrorist financing and money laundering.

The FATF is made up of 37 member countries and two regional groups, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Commission.

Pakistan has made “significant progress in its efforts to improve its framework for combating money laundering and terrorist financing,” Pleyer told a press conference. “However, serious gaps remain,” all in areas related to the financing of terrorism, he said.

Of the 27 elements of the action plan to which Pakistan subscribed after it was graylisted in 2018, three “still need to be fully addressed,” said the FATF chief.

“I strongly urge the completion of the action plan,” Pleyer said, noting that the deadlines for implementing it have expired. Pakistan’s status will be reviewed at an extraordinary plenary session in June, he said. Members would decide on next steps if the requirements are not met.

Pakistan has worked hard to raise its international profile and reinvent itself as a promoter of peace, making it a center of attention whenever its status is reviewed.

Pakistan-based independent think tank Tabadlab this week estimated the cost to Pakistan’s economy of the FATF graylist at $ 38 billion.

A report prepared by economist Naafey Sardar, associate research professor at Texas A&M University in San Antonio, said there was a cumulative effect on Pakistan’s real gross domestic product due to the gray listing, which has led to a sharp reduction in consumption, exports and foreign direct investment. investment. “These findings highlight the significant negative consequences associated with the FATF graylist,” said de Sardar’s report.

Among the additions to the gray list, Morocco must, among other things, strengthen its financial intelligence unit, “one of the main authorities in the fight against money laundering”, declared the President of the FATF.

North Korea and Iran remain the only two countries on the blacklist, the high-risk list, although their status was not reviewed in the last session. The blacklist designation means that international financial transactions with these countries are closely monitored, making it expensive and time-consuming to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to blacklisted countries.

North Korea’s funding for weapons of mass destruction is a major concern. Iran has made “some progress” since committing to an action plan in 2016, the FATF chief said, but still has serious shortcomings such as the failure to sign two international conventions against the financing of terrorism.

The FATF has said the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped criminals from exploiting it for financial gain.

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Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan contributed.

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