ISLAMABAD: While money laundering and terror financing are already in schedule offences of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has set up a cell at its headquarters for combating money laundering and terror financing.
The cell has been tasked to maintain coordination with the national Financial Action Task Force secretariat and other stakeholders, besides monitoring analysis to help strengthen the ongoing efforts to eradicate money laundering and combating terror financing, says an official press release.
The cell is headed by NAB Director General Operations Zahir Shah while Director Monitoring Zafar Iqbal, Additional Director Mufti Abdul Haq, banking experts Jahanzab Fareed, Sohail Ahmed and senior legal consultant (prosecution) Nasir Mehmood Mughal are among its members.
Bureau lacks jurisdiction to probe these offences, FIA officials raise objection
However, the FIA doesn’t seem to be happy with the national graft watchdog’s new mandate. A senior official of the agency said it is an overstep as there are already specialised departments in the FIA to investigate money laundering and terrorism financing.
Former director legal of the FIA Mohammad Azam, who has also served in NAB, said that the Anti Money Laundering Act has empowered the FIA, NAB, FBR, Anti- Narcotics Force, Financial Management Unit and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan to investigate money laundering. However, terror financing probe is the sole domain of the FIA as it can only be investigated under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, which is a schedule offence of the FIA.
He said that since NAB operates under the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, which does not cover terrorism financing, the bureau lacks jurisdiction to probe it. When contacted, NAB’s spokesman Nawazish Ali Asim that the bureau being the focal organisation of the United Nations in Pakistan that fights against corruption has established an anti-money laundering cell. He said that the bureau’s cell on terrorism financing will work with other stakeholders, including the FIA.