FATF Compliance Now Possible for Pakistan Real Estate Sector

by M. Wasim

Although, there are still some question marks on the implementation and acceptability across the board, however the agreement of cooperation between Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and real estate fraternity is indeed a good move in the right direction. In an earlier write-up “Implication of FATF on Real Estate Pakistan”, it has been already briefed that business personalities from construction and housing sector believed that without taking realtors in confidence the move of government, under the FATF stipulations, was surely going to hit the real estate trading and activities.

Now when the FBR has made agreed realtors there are at least some silver lining that the country would come out from the grey list without harming real estate sector. As, that remains the last compliance of Financial Action Task Force, left to be fulfilled by Pakistan.

Concerns of Real Estate Community

 Builder and developers argued that due to the limited qualification, majority of their real estate agents and brokers neither understand properly the lengthy 4-page questionnaires with 86 questions, nor fill them out. There are more than half million real estate dealers across the country, for them the compliance is a big issue. Besides, the move wouldn’t be prosperous for real estate activities and market situation at that moment when Construction Amnesty Scheme was available.

New Developments

Now in order to fulfill the condition of FATF in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1267 and 1373, last month a meeting was held between FBR and realtors in which the former has brought the later on the board and extended support in filling the questionnaires. FBR has taken all realtors in confidence to share information of proposed buyers and sellers of properties before brokering a deal. The decision has been taken to prevent proscribed terrorists from making property deals, a much-needed move towards compliance of FATF.

Customer Due Diligence

It has been also decided that FBR would issue a shorter version of guidelines and a simplified Customer Due Diligence (CDD) in English and Urdu languages. The number of questions in the questionnaire will be as minimum as possible and also available in Urdu for real estate agents. By that the process has been simplified to facilitate about 22,000 registered Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs) of real estate sector who were finding hard to complete a four-page data sheet covering dozens of questions about sellers and purchasers of property.

It has also been ensured that property dealers and developers would either have to register themselves as DNFBPs or work under the umbrella of already registered DNFBPs. It is necessary to mention that out of 500,000 property dealers working across the country, the FBR has registered 22,000 as DNFBPs, who are filers of income tax returns.

Mobile Application

Most importantly the UN Security Council has shared a list of 4500 proscribed terrorists with Pakistani authorities. That has, indeed, made things easier and practicable to comply with the anti-money laundering and counter terror financing laws and regulations.

According to reports the FBR has developed an Application having names of around 4500 proscribed terrorists in it and shared it with realtor’s community. All the builders, developers and realtors will be bound to ensure a checklist with the help of this Application. If any of the suspect name appears in the list, the developer and builder will have to immediately generate a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) for alerting the officials.

With these developments, not only the real estate sector starts to be documented and the confidence of buyers strengthened but also Pakistan would hopefully come out of FATF grey list.


Editorial, Infocus

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