FATF conditions: Money laundering to be made cognizable offence

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by Mehtab Haider
To comply with conditions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for coming out of grey list, the PTI-led government has decided to introduce amendments bill of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act in Parliament by proposing an increase in imprisonment period up to 14 years from existing 10 years, jacking up of penalty from Rs5 million up to value of asset involved in crime and making money laundering as cognizable offense, The News has learnt.
However, the government has rejected proposal for granting powers of anti-smuggling to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The proposal of amending Customs Act has also been dropped. The government considered bringing amendments to AML Act 2010 through promulgation of Presidential Ordinance but now they were considering to table it in Parliament in shape of a bill.

A nine-member team of Asia Pacific Group (APG), regional body of FATF, which comprises members from USA, UK, Australia and other countries, is currently visiting Pakistan for reviewing progress on mutual evaluation of 27 actionable plan for preparation of detailed report and its initial findings are expected to be tabled before the FATF session to be held at Paris in January 2019.

Pakistan will have to comply with 27 actionable plans till September 2019 with possibility of three scenarios such as graduating from grey to green list if fully complied with actionable points, one year extension to grey list if they find out requirement of more progress and downgrading from grey to black list if find out no satisfactory progress having far reaching impact for the country’s economy.

However, Pakistani team argued before the visiting APG team that some political influence was also impacting the working of APG and FATF and cited certain examples that Afghanistan and some other countries were listed in the green category despite the fact that its regulatory and financial framework and regulations were much weaker than Pakistan but there was still on the right side of US so ignored by key forums.

However, there was consensus among different departments within the country that some conditions of the FATF were basically in the interest of Pakistan and all-out efforts must be put together to safeguard larger interest of the country.

The APG has asked Pakistani authorities to bring amendments to the FIA Act of 1974, the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act of 1947 and the Anti-Monetary Laundering Act of 2010. On amendments to AML Act 2010, it states that whoever commits the offence of money laundering shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one million rupees and shall also be liable to forfeiture of property involved in money laundering or property of corresponding value. Provided that the aforesaid fine may extend to five million rupees in case of a company and every director, officer or employee of the company found guilty under this section shall also be punishable under this section.

Now the Finance Minister Asad Umar approved the finalised draft for bringing amendments to AML Act 2010 under which it would be made cognizable offense as currently the charges were framed and reference was filed with the court for getting approval on registration of money laundering case against the accused persons. It was also proposed to increase imprisonment period from 10 to 14 years. Under the penalty clause, now it has been proposed that the maximum penalty amount should be increased from Rs5 million up to value of money or assets involved in criminal proceeds.courtesy The News

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