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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of relevant regulators and law-enforcement agencies, convened by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, on Tuesday proposed establishment of an anti-fraud body on the pattern of National Fraud Authority of UK.

“We need to develop a national anti-fraud strategy so that a mechanism be institutionalised through this body like the National Fraud Authority of UK,” said SECP Commissioner Tahir Mahmood while speaking at the meeting held at the SECP.

The meeting was attended by representatives of State Bank of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Financial Monitoring Unit and the federal and provincial police.

It was agreed that a comprehensive strategy be devised to combat illegal business activities of launching schemes termed ponzi or pyramid which are carried by unregistered entities and even registered companies too.

“The effects of fraudulent businesses can be devastating, robbing people of their hard-earned money, but we all come into action only after public complaints,” said Tahir Mahmood, adding, “through our collective and sincere efforts, we need to create a society that has zero tolerance for fraudulent businesses.”

The participants of the meeting agreed to achieve the objective of eliminating such schemes for which there has to be new strategy, and coordinated efforts especially in the absence of any comprehensive law to control schemes as and when these are launched.

It was highlighted that such schemes included luring individuals to collect a meagre amount and upgrade themselves in the investment scheme, information of awards and prizes through mobile phones and email, investment opportunities in overseas markets, etc and in the end those who fall prey, end up losing their money.

The SECP officials made a comprehensive presentation on ‘combating fraudulent businesses together’, and elaborated on various frauds encountered in near past, such a s forex companies, multi-level marketing, illegal deposit taking, investment offers, etc.

He emphasised the need for developing a whistle-blowers’ hotline and rapid proactive approach.

The participants of the meeting agreed on the need for a new strategy to combat all kinds of business scams collectively.

It was noted that most of cases related to such schemes were lying in courts, and due to lack of coordination, all enforcers were limited to their sphere only.

“Usually what happens is that the SECP may terminate the company status of those who launch such schemes, the State Bank would block the account of some group involved in this business, but in all we do not know what everybody is doing before it is too late,” the SECP commissioner said.

Some participants said that in addition to amending old laws, there was a need for a new law to deal with fraudulent businesses.

The meeting was organised to achieve synergy to prevent fraudulent business activities aimed at cheating the public.

There was an agreement on sharing of information to identify and prevent business scams. It identified various areas of common interest, including intelligence sharing, and training of investigators.

It was decided that the SECP would request various law-enforcing and investigating agencies to nominate focal persons for coordination.

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