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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Government establishes committee to curb money laundering and terror financing

A 14-member committee which includes officials from FBR, NAB, FIA, ANF, CTDs has been formed by the government to put a reign on money laundering and terror financing.

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A high powered 14-member task-force has been established by the government to curb money laundering, terror financing and seize stolen money.

A notification issued by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Cell installed at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), read that the committee comprises of representatives from the FBR, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), intelligence agencies and the provincial counter-terrorism agencies. It further revealed that the committee has been created under Section 5(9) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, following the decision taken at the 24th meeting of the General Committee for Prevention of Money Laundering.

Read More: FATF: Keeping Pakistan on the edge!

The director general of the FATF Secretariat would be in charge of the committee. It would have quarterly meetings but sessions could also be summoned earlier. The agenda of the meeting would be communicated to the relevant departments a week before the meeting.

The committee will function as a subcommittee of the General Committee of the FATF Secretariat, incorporating Grade 19 and above officers—from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), FIA, Anti-Narcotics Tax Force (ANF), Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), FBR’s Inland Revenue, customs department, provincial counter-terrorism departments (CTDs) and intelligence agencies.

Read More: FATF satisfied over Pakistan’s measures countering terror financing

The document disclosed that the Multi-Agency Money Laundering Investigation and Confiscation Committee (MAMLICC) will help in the formulation and execution of plans, programs and policies to curb money laundering and terrorism financing.

The committee will identify the rising trends in money laundering and terror financing at the national and global level and will put forward its recommendations for policy developments, national anti-money laundering plan and joint operation action plan. It would also provide resources for the training of staff, present inputs for the allocation of opportunities and resources as well as other technical requirements.

Combating money laundering and terror financing

The committee’s responsibilities would include international cooperation in the fight against money laundering and follow-up on the exchange procedures. It would also be responsible for devising mechanisms and coordinating information between intelligence agencies, law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) and the FMU in money laundering cases. Moreover, it would work to enhance overall cooperation at the local level in the investigation into the money laundering cases through confiscation of stolen assets and money.

Read More: Combating money laundering and pulling Pakistan out of FATF’s grey list

The document further said that the committee would also monitor the process of recovery and deposit of funds in the national treasury after completion of legal procedures of the confiscated money and assets. It would also play its part in removing legal and procedural obstacles in money laundering and terror financing cases.

Will Pakistan make it out of FATF’s grey list this time?

Pakistan has been a part of FATF’s grey list since 2018 owing to the deficiencies in its counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering regimes. In its last meeting held in October, FATF had decided to keep Pakistan on the list of ‘jurisdiction under enhanced monitoring’ till February 2021, when it would once again assess the progress that the country has made with respect to addressing the strategic deficiencies.

27 actions were recommended by FATF, 21 out of which Pakistan has complied with. However, it has failed to take action against the prosecution and conviction of banned individuals and also the organizations associated with the terror groups listed by the UN Security Council. It has also been unsuccessful in dealing with terror financing through narcotics and the smuggling of precious stones.

Read More: Pakistan likely to be removed from FATF’s grey list, says Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is, however, still optimistic and believes that a positive decision would be taken for Pakistan by FATF in its next meeting as they have made substantial progress across all action plan items. He said that it is expected for Pakistan to get delisted from FATF’s grey list at its next plenary meeting. The global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog had decided to keep the country on the grey list till February despite progress by Pakistan on meeting international anti-terrorism financing norms. The Financial Action Task Force has urged the country to swiftly finalize an internationally agreed action plan by February 2021.

Currently, Pakistan is concentrating on the implementation of all recently-enacted laws to come out of FATF’s grey list in February.