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August 11, 2020

NA panel passes Anti-Money Laundering 2nd Amend Bill 2020

Top Story

August 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance on Monday approved the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) 2nd Amendment Bill 2020 with majority.

The opposition members termed approval of bill “bulldozing” exercise because none of the opposition’s proposals, including parliamentary oversight through inclusion of parliamentarians from opposition in high powered National Executive Committee for curbing itsmisuse for political victimisation, granting powers to NAB, making money laundering as cognizable offense, placing jewelry, real estate and other services and business activities into more difficulties were included in the bill.

“None of our proposal has been accepted and the bill is cleared in haste,” PML-N member Ayesha Ghous Pasha told The News after the meeting. The NA Standing Committee on Finance met under chairmanship of Faiz Ullah Kamoka here at the Parliament House and the meeting cleared the bill within just in 25 minutes as the meeting started at 10.30am and ended at 10.55am.

The committee approved the bill with majority as nine votes supported the bill belonging to treasury benches while 6 members belonging to opposition benches caste vote against it. The chairman of the committee said that they deliberated on this bill for seven hours in last meeting so the objections raised by the opposition would be made part of the approved bill. But the opposition members were of the view that there was dictation from somewhere for approving this bill so the treasury benches bulldozed it listening nothing. Ayesha Ghous Pasha was of the view that the treasury benches were lenient till last Friday but some advice from the top forced them to bulldoze the bill too early, too quick. She said that the opposition knew the intricacies involved because of FATF but this law could have been improved with the suggestion tabled by the opposition benches. She said that the government provided incentives to property and construction sector by bringing amnesty scheme but now the AML second amendment bill placed more restrictions on them so the government actions were self-contradictory because they were confused by themselves.

When the proceedings of the committee kick started, Syed Naveed Qamar from PPP argued that they had concerns for inclusion of NAB as part of this anti-money laundering bill.

DG Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) Lubna Farooq defended the role of the NAB in the AML law and took stance that the NAB was working with many other agencies and excluding the NAB at this point would not be possible.

Hina Rabbani Khar from PPP labeled the proposed law as "draconian" and said it would create enormous difficulties for the economy. Qaiser Ahmed Shaikh from PML-N stated that those were Finance Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, which the government was trying to get approved through the AML bill, and added that the law should not be approved in haste, and business community should be taken on board owing to its impact on businesses.

In the proposed second amendment AML law, penalty on money laundering on individual has been increased from Rs5 million to Rs25 million, and for institution and company to Rs100 million. The law also envisages a National Executive Committee (NEC) for implementation on the recommendations.

Financial institutes would be required to provide information for suspicious transactions, and would be required to maintain records of financial transactions for five-year period.