Aasha Khosa/New Delhi
A British government report that says illegal money from Pakistan continues to flow into country’s property market for laundering the ill-gotten wealth, could further jeopardise the chances of Islamabad getting out of the grey list of the Financial Action task Force in February.
The report, ‘National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing 2020,’ says that Pakistan’s "corrupt foreign elites continue to be attracted to the UK property market, especially in London, to disguise their corruption proceeds."
The report is released by the UK's Treasury and Home Office. It says the corrupt people route their illegal funds to buy properties in the UK and take back the money they make on there through illegal means.
Though the report has also named China, Hong Kong, Russia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), it’s revelations have the most serious repercussions for Pakistan as the FATF reviews its status as a country on “enhanced (expedited) follow up regime.” Under this status, Pakistan has to report about its progress in strengthening implementation of Anti-money laundering and countering terror financing measures to the Asia Pacific Group (AGP), the regional affiliate of the FATF on monthly basis.
In its last review of Pakistan’s status as a grey listed country, the FATF had found it compliant in just two of the 40 parameters. Though it has made partial progress in some areas to make its system compliant with the global standards, the FATF has not found Pakistan’s efforts sincere and holistic.
As against the hopes of Pakistan to be off the grey list with the help of Turkey and China in its October plenary, FATF gave Islamabad one more deadline to do the needful.
With the damning report of the UK Treasury, Islamabad’s chances of getting out of the list becomes more difficult and it could instead be blacklisted. Sudan
The report says, "The UK continues to have close economic links to Pakistan, including significant remittance flows between both jurisdictions, which according to estimated equated to approximately $1.7 billion in 2017.
"Economic and cultural ties also enable and disguise illicit funds to be transferred between the UK and Pakistan, including through illegal informal value transfers," it added.
The report says that Pakistani people are pumping their ‘dirty money’ into purchasing estate, gems and jewellery and other high value assets in the UK There are 1.2 million Pakistan-origin people in the UK.
The report says these monies includes proceeds from corruption and drug trafficking. Pakistan is yet to make its money laundering laws difficult for the international criminals to break
On the other hand, the report says the country runs the risk of ‘case-based money laundering from the UK to Pakistan via smuggled cash and Money Service Business (MSBs).’
The UK is member of the FATF and was in the forefront of moving the proposal of putting Pakistan under the watchdog’s scrutiny.
Right now, 14 countries are on the grey list of FATF while North Korea and Iran are on the blacklist.
Pakistan’s domestic propaganda is about India being behind putting Pakistan in trouble with the FATF. However, India is one of the 39 members of the FATF.