Pakistan to toughen law for FATF goals

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has decided to grant regulatory powers to a set of public and private bodies to effectively regulate high risks businesses and professions that were prone to money laundering and terror financing, a media report said.

The federal cabinet has recently approved amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 — for the second time in four months – that would now be placed before Parliament for approval, The Express Tribune report said on Friday.

Parliament had also amended the anti-money laundering law four months ago but it fell short of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) expectations.

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The decision has been taken ahead of a meeting of the FATF’s joint group to address the legal deficiencies pointed out by the global watchdog.

A controversial change, which the parliament had struck down four months ago, was to declare money laundering a cognisable offence. However, it is again part of the proposed changes endorsed by the cabinet two days ago, the report said.

Currently, money laundering is a non-cognisable offence but the government has again proposed changes after which investigation officers would be empowered to arrest people without warrants and start an investigation without court permission.

The joint group is expected to meet in September to review Pakistan’s case before it is placed in front of the FATF plenary, which likely to take place in October.

Pakistan won a three-month further extension to complete its 27-point action plan because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The extended deadline was June this year but the FATF extended it due to the postponement of the FATF plenary.

The FATF had placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018, placing at least 27 conditions for compliance review on September 2019.

Since then, Pakistan has been given extensions at least thrice of three months each as Islamabad failed to comply with the conditions, required to ensure its name is removed from the grey list.

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