NA panel objects to proposed anti-money laundering bill


ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly standing committee on Finance on Thursday objected to the proposed Anti-Money Laundering (Amend¬ment) Bill, 2019.
Members of the committee feared that excessive powers being given to investigating officers could be used for political victimisation or would promote corruption in official circles.
Even the committee’s chairman Faiz Ullah, who belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), expressed concern over the amendments suggested by officials of the finance ministry.
Briefing the committee, Additional Finance Secretary Sohail Hashmi said that amendments were proposed in the existing law to increase punishment to 10 years in jail and fine to Rs5 million from Rs1m and to make the monetary laundering a ‘cognizable offence’.
Members fear excessive powers being given to investigating officers could be used for political victimisation
The other proposed amendment, the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), will be facilitated to become a member of financial units of other countries for exchange of and access to information.
The proposed law is going to authorise the investigating officer to arrest the person involved in money laundering, besides attaching his/her property for 180 days.
The meeting was told that, as required by the Financial Action Task Force, the time limit of taking action by the FMU not later than seven days was being removed because the task force wanted prompt and immediate action on suspicious transactions. The record of suspicious transactions would be maintained for 10 years.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, the investigation agencies include the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Narcotics Force or any other law-enforcement agency as may be notified by the federal government for the investigation or prosecution of a predicate offence.
Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that any law that gave excessive and unchecked powers to the investigating officer would lead to more harassment and corruption.

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