ISLAMABAD: Law-Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in the country have registered 230 cases under Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act to curb sources of funds being used in terrorism.
The number of cases registered under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) was 498. The number of cases registered as Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) from Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) was 116.
Data issued by the interior division while giving details of the registration of such cases and steps being taken to curb sources of such funds on Sunday revealed that the cases were under investigation in provinces.
The government has signed International Convention on Suppression of Financing of Terrorism adopted by General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution.
Moreover, in order to strengthen anti-terrorism regime, especially with a focus on choking terrorists’ funding sources, amendments to ATA, 1997, had been introduced in March 2013, and in June 2014.
The basic objective of these amendments was to make the law more effective and harmonised with best international practices.
Rules under the ATA 1997 for freezing of assets of terrorists have been framed and are with the Law and Justice Division for final vetting.
The government has so far proscribed 62 organisations under provisions of the ATA, while the State Bank of Pakistan has issued detailed regulations to all banks, for strict compliance, regarding anti-money laundering/terrorists’ financing. These regulations are regularly updated by the SBP.
Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA), 2016, has been promulgated which makes collection of funds for terrorist organisations through any information system or electronic devices an offence.
Similarly, the Financial Monitoring Unit has also been set up which is now fully functional.
The FMU is regularly sending Suspicious Transactions Reports and Currency Transaction Reports (CTR) about suspects to various agencies like Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation to investigate and take action according to law.
The National Action Plan’s point No. 6 relates to “choking financing for terrorists and terrorist organisations” and is being implemented.
The collection of funds through donation boxes for different organisations has also been banned. In case of violation, donation boxes are seized and action under the law is taken by local police.
In terms of AML Act, 2010, reporting entities are legally bound to send financial intelligence to FMU in all cases where there is a suspicion that funds are related to terrorist activities or terrorist organisations.
Moreover, the data said the government had recently shared a list of persons placed on Schedule 4 of the ATA, 1997, along with their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) numbers for freezing of their bank accounts.
Accordingly, the SBP has frozen 4461 bank accounts of people coming under the 4th Schedules all over Pakistan.
The SBP has also issued prudential regulations under which bankers are duty bound to exercise Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) obligations without fail and report all suspicious transactions to FMU.
Designated/proscribed entities and individuals are prohibited from opening bank accounts and/or availing any facility from any financial institution in the country.
Various capacity building programmes are regularly arranged for law-enforcement agencies to develop and strengthen their skills regarding investigation of financial crimes while units for countering of terrorism financing have been established under counterterrorism departments of the provinces.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2017