National Assembly passes five bills related to FATF

PML-N, PPP, JUI-F vote in favour: BNP-M abstains as Mengal stresses need for first defining what terrorism is

By: News Desk      Published: 01:11 PM, 12 Aug, 2020
National Assembly passes five bills related to FATF

The National Assembly on Wednesday passed five government bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after developing a consensus between the opposition and treasury benches.

The bills passed by the House were the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Sections 6, 11EE, 11J, 11N, 11O, 11OO, 11Q, 19 and 21EE); the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill, 2020.

 The National Assembly passed the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2020 with an overwhelming majority as the main opposition parties – PML-N, PPP and JUI-F – supported the legislation. However, a JI member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali voted against the Bill while Sardar Akhtar Mengal-led BNP-M abstained from the process.

This Bill was initially tabled in the National Assembly and the government had been able to get it passed by the House while totally ignoring the amendments suggested by the opposition.

However, the number game in Senate meant that the opposition was able to incorporate the amendments in the Bill. Hence, it was again presented before the Lower House of the Parliament for final approval due to these amendments.

But the cooperation on the part of the three top opposition parties after the process and developments in the Upper House ensured that it would sail through the final hurdle. The Bill will now be sent to President Arif Alvi for his signature after which it would become an Act.

Speaking on the occasion, Mengal said his party wasn’t part of the consensus between the treasury and opposition benches. “We were not taken into confidence when in government, we are now not taken into confidence by the opposition,” he remarked.

“We are sitting on the opposition benches in an independent status,” said Mengal and added that they were not passengers of a moving vehicle.

Expressing his reservations, Mengal said there was a need to first define terrorism and questioned whether the elected prime ministers like Nawaz Sharif were not declared a terrorist.

“Is person becomes a terrorist after registration of a case,” Mengal asked and added, “Someone breaking a glass becomes a terrorist but the one trampling the Constitution isn’t.”

Mengal said they would be with them on the issue if anyone violating the Constitution was first declared a terrorist.

However, Law Minister Farogh Naseem thanked the opposition for their cooperation in getting the bill passed.

On the other hand, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif raised the issue of police action against Maryam Nawaz and party supporters in Lahore while blasting the government over the issue. 

He cited the example of Public Accounts Committee Chairman Rana Tanveer of PML-N, who was in the House on Tuesday had been nominated in the case registered against Maryam and others in Lahore. “It proves that the FIR is bogus,” he remarked.

In his response, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Rana Tanveer shouldn’t have been named in the FIR if he was in the National Assembly in Islamabad.

The lower house of the parliament in total passed five government bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The bills passed by the House were the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Sections 6, 11EE, 11J, 11N, 11O, 11OO, 11Q, 19 and 21EE); the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill, 2020.

The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the implementation of the orders passed by the Federal Government under the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 and the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948.

The amendments were considered essential in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The scope of the application of the penalties needs to be extended to those who are involved in terrorism in any manner outside the boundaries of the country’ in addition, it is considered essential to match the penalties, fines and restrictions for the same kind of punishments and to provide legal powers to the law enforcement agencies for speedy trial and disposal of cases.

Furthermore, the facilities required for meeting the necessary expenses through exemptions are also required to be incorporated in detail.

The Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2020 has suggested various amendments to the Limited Liability Partnership Act 2017 to ensure compliance with the recommendations on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism issued by FATF. Pakistan’s 2019 Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) on FATF Recommendations issued by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) highlighted lack of obligations for limited liability partnerships (LLPs) to hold ultimate beneficial ownership information. The report also highlighted the lack of penalties for breach of AML/CFT requirements by LLFs.

Accordingly, the proposed amendments are being made to ensure compliance with FATF’s recommendation aimed at enhancing the transparency of legal persons, to fulfil the recommended actions in MER, and to enhance the country’s ranking against the aforesaid standards. These are also aimed to conform to the action plan approved by the National Executive Committee on AML/CFT for compliance with the FATF recommendations.

The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2020 has suggested various amendments to Companies Act 2017 to ensure compliance with the recommendations on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism issued by FATF. Pakistan’s 2019 MER on FATF Recommendations issued by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) highlighted certain deficiencies including lack of explicit prohibition on the issuance of bearer shares or bearer share warrants, lack of obligations for companies to hold beneficial ownership information, etc.

The report also recommended that the persons who breach the required measures shall be made subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

Accordingly, the proposed amendments are being made to ensure compliance with FATF’s recommendation aimed at enhancing the transparency of legal persons, to fulfil the recommended actions in MER and to enhance the country’s ranking against the aforesaid standards.

These are also aimed at conforming to the action plan approved by the National Executive Committee on AML/CFT for compliance with the FATF recommendations.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Bill, 2020 aimed to enhance the effectiveness of the implementation of the Orders passed by the Federal Government to cater effective administration and financial monitoring and evaluation of the trusts relating to registration, administration and monitoring of trusts registered within the territorial limits of Islamabad Capital Territory.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Control of Narcotic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Pakistan has been given a final lifeline by FATF to meet the deficiencies with regard to Money Laundering and Terrorists Financing highlighted by Asian Pacific Group.

That vide para- 41 of recommendation No.3 of Mutual Evaluation/ Report (MER) 2019 FATF has observed a minor deficiency in Section 12 of Control of Narcotics Substances (CNSI Act 1997 that it restricts the acts of concealment or disguise by making a false declaration.

It is highlighted that as per section 12 [c) of CNS Act1997, the scope/applicability of the said section has been confined to “making false declaration with regard to ownership, source, location or true nature of assets”. Moreover, during the meeting held at Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), it was intimated that legal regime of Pakistan with regard to ML and TF is largely compliant, however, in case the deficiencies are not met, it may result into negative impact upon the efforts undertaken by Pakistan to comply with the requirements/observations of FATF.

Minister for Law and Justice Mohammad Farogh Naseem on the request of Maulana Akbar Chitrali a bill- the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020 was deferred.–APP