Money launderers will get 10 years in prison
National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance approved the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance approved of the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The bill advises punishments for offenders and also, it outlines mechanisms for authorities to deal with such circumstances in a way that fulfills the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering.
As per the bill, anyone who violates the law against money laundering will serve a prison sentence of 10 years instead of the previous punishment, which was two years. Also, a fine of Rs. 5 million instead of Rs. 1 million will have to be paid.
Also, the officer investigating will be given the authority the remand of the person for 180 days (which was previously 90 days), and arrest warrants from the court will not be needed. The assets of the offender will be seized by those in authority.
Today, a session of the committee was held in the Parliament House in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Asad Umar. While delivering a briefing to the committee, Bashir Memon, the Director-General of FIA (Federal Investigation Agency, asked for the above-mentioned amendments to be added in the Bill.
The State Bank officials told the members of the committee that under the conditions that FATF (Financial Action Task Force) provided, the money laundering offense must be reported immediately. Legal action will be taken against those bank employees who file incorrect transaction reports as well as those who cease to report such suspicious transactions.
Approval to the Foreign Exchange Regulations Bill, under which the exchange of foreign currency will be regulated, was granted by the committee. Permission from the State Bank will be needed first if an individual has to send or receive $10,000 or more.
Reservations over FATF’s suggestions against money laundering:
During the session, members of the committee showed reservations on the suggestions which FATF provided to curb money laundering. Ayesha Ghous Pasha thought that “having turned FATF into a shield, the authorities were implementing an ‘overkill’ when it came to responsive measures”.
“Where in the world does this occur, that an individual is barred from carrying foreign currency from one city to the other?” – she said.
To her question, Asad Umer responded by saying:
“FATF is giving us biased treatment. It is telling Pakistan to do what is done nowhere else in the world.”
So far, Pakistan has avoided the FATF blacklist, but in October it has to report back to FATF that it has been successful in implementing its own action plan to counter terror financing.
Pakistan now has to convince FATF by October that it has implemented its action plan. And also, it has to win over 15 out of the 36 FATF members to be cut off from the grey list of countries which are monitored to make sure of compliance.
Just recently, Pakistan took a few important measures to oppose terror financing and money laundering, this helped in convincing of FATF members to not put Islamabad on the blacklist. The measures taken included banning currency transactions without a national tax number, proscribing of militant groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad and seizing their assets, and disallowing open market conversion of more than $500 without submitting a photocopy of NIC or National Identity Card.
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