Fulfilling FATF demand, Anti-Money Laundering Bill becomes law

By: News Desk      Published: 11:50 AM, 24 Sep, 2020
Fulfilling FATF demand, Anti-Money Laundering Bill becomes law

The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020, became law on Thursday, fulfilling a major demand of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

President Dr Arif Alvi signed the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill into law, which will be effective immediately.

The National Assembly Secretariat also confirmed the President’s consent.

The new law calls for severe punishments for those involved in money laundering.

About a week ago, the joint session of the Parliament bulldozed three Financial Action Task Force-related laws in an attempt to avoid being added to the task force’s blacklist. 

In the joint session, marred by opposition protests, the bills were passed with a thin majority of 10 votes, with 200 lawmakers voting in its support and 190 opposition legislators opposing the legislation. 

The three bills passed with amendments were the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020; Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill; and the Anti-Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020. 

Being passed thrice by the National Assembly in the past, these bills were blocked three times by the opposition-dominated Senate, prompting President Arif Alvi to summon a joint session of the Parliament to make crucial legislation. 

The Paris-based FATF had placed Pakistan on its grey list in June 2018, making it extremely difficult for the cash-starved country to raise money on the international bond market. 

Before the bills were passed in Parliament’s joint sitting, the Senate had rejected the FATF-related anti-money laundering legislation, objecting to some of its provisions.

According to the Anti-Terrorism Act(Amendment) Bill, 2020, the one specifically aimed at addressing FATF’s 27-point action plan given to Islamabad last year, the investigating officer, with the permission of the court, can conduct covert operations to detect terrorism funding and track communications and computer systems by applying the latest technologies in 60 days.

It also states that written requests would be made to the court for an extension of investigation and the court may extend the period for another 60 days.

The bill says funding for terrorism is a major obstacle in the country’s development and a source of disgrace. “Terrorism funding was benefiting those elements which were not only a threat to internal and external peace of the country but also its allies,” it says. 

“The main purpose of introducing this bill is to enable law enforcement agencies to eradicate these curses by adopting certain preventive techniques with the empowered assistance of the courts of law,” it adds.