Monday March 20, 2023

Senate finance panel told: 767 money-laundering complaints received since 2016

The FBR said 767 complaints of alleged money laundering were received out of which 254 notices were dispatched

By Our Correspondent
December 08, 2022
767 money-laundering complaints received since 2016. The News/File
767 money-laundering complaints received since 2016. The News/File

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Wednesday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that 767 complaints of alleged money laundering were received out of which 254 notices were dispatched with involved money of Rs358 billion since 2016.

The senators grilled the FBR for issuing notices on allegations of money laundering whereas they were demanding that these notices should be dispatched on allegations of tax evasion only. The money laundering notices were similar to a death warrant, said Senator Mohsin Aziz of the PTI during the Senate panel proceedings.

The committee held its meeting under the chairmanship of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla here on Wednesday in which FBR Chairman Asim Ahmed said the FBR did not arrest anyone without having solid proof and arrested only five persons on these charges in the last six years. Citing an example, he said one salaried employee undertook a transaction of Rs46 billion and added that he might be doing currency business. The senators opposed it and said when the Anti Money Laundering (AML) was made, they opposed it as it would be misused.

The committee discussed the matter relating to notices sent to businesses by the FBR under the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Asim Ahmad informed the committee that the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) sent suspicious transactions reports and then notices were served after being verified by a third party. Only transactions worth Rs10 million or above proceed under the Act. Mandviwalla said the matter of suspicious transactions should be investigated under tax evasion laws instead of the Act. The committee directed the FBR to take the referred matter as a test case and advised it to be careful in the scrutiny of all cases pointed out by the FMU.

Furthermore, the committee was apprised of withdrawal of appeals by the federal government against the verdict of the Federal Shariat Court on interest/Riba.

Aisha Ghaus Pasha, State Minister for Finance and Revenue, said every political party had expressed inclination towards elimination of interest/Riba and the SBP was working on a transformational plan, which would be implemented in the coming years. The plan did not aim at transition of the whole financial system. It was limited to certain windows and products, she added.

Mandviwalla informed that the Bank of China and other foreign banks wrote a letter about this pertinent matter and advised the ministry to address their reservations. During discussion on the matter of Google payments being stopped by the SBP, bank officials said the cellular companies had been directed to submit their contract documents to establish misuse and violation outside their mandate by December 31.