Islamabad: After unanimously removing some clauses, the Senate Committee on Finance approved amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Foreign Exchange Regulations to meet the terms of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
According to the report, the breakthrough came two weeks before a direct meeting with the FATF Joint Group in Beijing, China, at the end of this month, followed by a FATF meeting next month. I will determine whether Pakistan has taken so many steps under the Action Plan to remove its name from the grey list.
The bill passed by the Senate Committee was the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2019, and the Foreign Exchange Regulations (Amendment) 2019, which aims to address the legal flaws identified by the FATF.
The draft will now be submitted to the Senate for approval, after which it will be returned to the National Assembly for reconsideration.
Approval of the bill did not prove to be an easy matter, but senior Finance Ministry committee members appeared to be upset over the unanimous removal of some clauses, stringent penalties for money laundering and foreign currency transport to the country.
However, some provisions were approved by a majority vote despite opposition from opposition members and committee chairman Farooq H. Naik.
Despite repeated appeals from Secretary Finance Naveed Kamran Baloch, committee members unanimously rejected a clause stopping the transfer of more than $ 10,000 worth of foreign currency and tightening money laundering penalties within the country.
Among other shortcomings, Senator Mohsin Aziz of the ruling party said that 40 percent of the trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan is cash and the remaining 60 percent is done through bank sources, so the $ 10,000 threshold is too low, which will hurt business interests.
Senators from two coalition parties (MQM and Balochistan Awami Party) voted in favour of amending money laundering as a "viable" crime.
In addition, the government had proposed 10 years imprisonment for money laundering, but the committee approved keeping the punishment from one to 10 years while raising the fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.