ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan had traced about 300 cases of money laundering, including 34 big transactions made to suspected terrorists, over the past five years, a bank official informed a Senate committee on Wednesday.
The official, who was a member of the anti-money laundering team headed by SBP Governor Dr Ashraf Wathra, told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance that 270 suspects had so far been arrested on money laundering charges and investigations were underway against them under the Anti-Money Laundering Act passed by parliament five years ago.
Besides, the SBP has frozen 200 bank accounts under the act.
He said 5,775 money laundering cases had been reported to the bank over the past five years.
But the official did not provide details of the transactions allegedly made to terrorists despite questions by members and perhaps because of the presence of reporters. He said it was sensitive information.
He shared the information with members of the committee, headed by Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who were seeking a briefing from officials of the SBP and the finance ministry while reviewing the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2014, aimed at making the existing law tougher and stricter.
Earlier, the SBP governor gave a briefing to the committee about effectiveness of the existing anti-money laundering law and actions taken by the bank to check the practice.
He said that international finance institutions had directed the SBP to keep a check on funding to terrorists.
The central bank had directed commercial banks to keep an eye on heavy transactions. He said an inter-ministerial committee had been formed to check money laundering activities. Moreover, a four-member committee comprising officials of law enforcement agencies had been constituted.
The members of the committee expressed reservations over some proposals of the finance ministry about confiscation of property of those involved in money laundering.
They disapproved another proposal to try tax evaders under the money-laundering act.
The committee members decided to continue deliberations on the “vital” bill.
Published in Dawn January 15th , 2015