FATF rules Pakistan made only “limited progress” on curbing terror funding

In this file finance minister of Asad Umar is chairing National Executive Committee (NEC) in Islamabad on Dec. 18, 2018 to assess the efforts of the country on progress Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan – File Photo (PID)
Updated 23 February 2019

FATF rules Pakistan made only “limited progress” on curbing terror funding

  • Urges it to “swiftly” take adequate steps to improve terror financing risks
  • Pakistan could be placed on FATF blacklist if it does not take specific actions by May

KARACHI: Global financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said Friday Pakistan had only made “limited progress” on an action plan to curb terrorism financing and money laundering and urged it to take at least ten necessary actions by May to avoid being placed on a blacklist.

Pakistan was included in a terror financing gray list last June after it failed to persuade the Paris-based FATF to keep it off a list of nations with inadequate controls to prevent terror financing and money laundering. The task force will make a final decision this year on removing Pakistan from its gray list, including it in its blacklist or excluding it altogether.

Being added to the watchlist makes it harder for governments to access international markets and attracts added scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions, adding obstacles to trade and investment.

“Given the limited progress on action plan items due in January 2019, the FATF urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its action plan, particularly those with timelines of May 2019.” the task force said in a statement.

Pakistan’s finance ministry said on Friday that FATF had advised Pakistan to take further actions that included a detailed assessment of the terror financing risk, strengthening of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) supervisory measures by regulatory authorities, undertaking financial inquiries and investigations into terrorist funding activities and raising awareness among citizens about counter-terror financing measures and controls.

“The FATF will undertake the next review of Pakistan’s progress in June 2019 which will be preceded by Face-to-Face meeting with the Joint Group in May 2019,” the finance ministry said.

In its statement, the task force acknowledged that Pakistan had taken some steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, “including by operationalising the integrated database for its currency declaration regime.”

However, it said that Pakistan did not “demonstrate a proper understanding” of the terror financing risks posed by a number of groups that operated in Pakistan, including Daesh, Al Qaeda, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Haqqani Network as well as individuals affiliated with the Taliban insurgency.

The task force outlined ten steps that Pakistan needed to “swiftly” taken to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies, particularly those with timelines of May 2019. These include:

(1) Adequately demonstrating its proper understanding of the TF [terror financing] risks posed by the terrorist groups above, and conducting supervision on a risk-sensitive basis.

(2) Demonstrating that remedial actions and sanctions are applied in cases of AML/CFT violations, and that these actions have an effect on AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions.

(3) Demonstrating that competent authorities are cooperating and taking action to identify and take enforcement action against illegal money or value transfer services (MVTS).

(4) Demonstrating that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for TF.

(5) Improving inter-agency coordination including between provincial and federal authorities on combating TF risks.

(6) demonstrating that law enforcement agencies (LEAs) are identifying and investigating the widest range of TF activity and that TF investigations and prosecutions target designated persons and entities, and persons and entities acting on behalf or at the direction of the designated persons or entities.

(7) Demonstrating that TF prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and enhancing the capacity and support for prosecutors and the judiciary.

(8) demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services.

(9) Demonstrating enforcement against TFS violations including administrative and criminal penalties and provincial and federal authorities cooperating on enforcement cases;

(10) Demonstrating that facilities and services owned or controlled by designated person are deprived of their resources and the usage of the resources.

Soybean dust 'likely cause' of Karachi toxic gas deaths — officials

Updated 18 February 2020

Soybean dust 'likely cause' of Karachi toxic gas deaths — officials

  • 14 people have died since Sunday night, 350 have been hospitalized
  • Pakistan State Oil temporarily closes its storage terminals in Kiamari

KARACHI: Authorities on Tuesday said that soybean dust was the likely cause of toxic gas that killed 14 and left over 300 others sick in Pakistan’s portside city of Karachi since Sunday night.
“Preliminary report has been submitted by experts at Khi (Karachi) Uni (university) which suggests that Kiamari incident happened due to over exposure of soybean dust which is known to have also caused similar incidents in other parts of the world,” Murtaza Wahab, spokesperson of the Sindh government tweeted late Tuesday.
“This soybean is in a shipment docked at Khi Port,” he added.
The report by the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), which was sent to Karachi’s commissioner and is available to Arab News, read that the deaths were caused soybean dust exposure.
“The symptoms due to exposure to soybean dust (aeroallergens) may be considered as the possible cause,” the report stated, urging bronchodilator and anti-histamine treatment for the patients and extreme care while uploading soybean containers.
The report said that soybean dust exposure-related epidemics have been reported in other parts of the world with associated morbidity and mortality.

Earlier, a government source told Arab News that the incident occurred during unloading of soybeans on Saturday evening at berth 12 of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) after MV Hercules arrived from the US. The unloading created dust which made its way toward Jackson area of Karachi’s Kiamari municipality.
According to sources, MV Hercules was fumigated on Jan. 8 at Cargill grain reserve Los Angeles, US after loading onboard with 56 degree aluminum phosphide “using one of approved methods.”
The breathing of aluminum phosphide can irritate the nose, throat and lungs causing coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath whereas repeated exposure may damage the lungs, kidneys and liver. Aluminum phosphide reacts with water or moisture to release highly toxic and flammable phosphine gas, the sources said, adding that “It is likely that exposure to particles of aluminum phosphide may have created problems for individuals passing by at that time and such unfortunate incident.”
Meanwhile, health officials said the death toll from the poisonous gas leak has reached 14.
“At least 14 people have died in four different hospitals of the city,” Dr. Zafar Mehdi, spokesperson of the health department said, adding that over 350 others have been impacted and needed treatment.
Officials at Ziauddin Hospital, where most of the affected persons were brought, said they received over a hundred patients on Sunday night, of whom four died.
“There was lull during the day and then again over a hundred visited the hospital, indicating that the gas impacts go high during humidity at night,” Amir Shehzad, spokesperson of the health facility, told Arab News.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) said his company had closed operations at Kiamari storage terminals.
“PSO has temporarily closed its storage terminals in the Kiamari, Karachi due to health and safety reasons. The operations on this location will resume as soon as the area is deemed safe for the company’s staff and contractors to operate.”
“There will be as such no impact of this temporary closure on supply of POL products within Karachi, and in upcountry locations. PSO has sufficient stock available, with backup supply arrangements already in place to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the POL products,” spokesperson told Arab News.