A high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday decided to amend the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act, 2010, with stricter punishments to be imposed in an effort to bring individuals involved in money laundering to book.
The meeting discussed the legal and administrative steps taken for prevention of money laundering and the achievements so far in that regard.
Law Minister Farogh Naseem briefed the meeting about the amendments made in the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act (FERA), 1947, AML Act, 2010, and the ATA, 1997, to make money laundering laws more effective.
As per the amendment proposed for the AML Act, the punishment for money laundering crimes will be increased to up to 10 years' imprisonment while the fine will be increased to Rs5 million.
It was also decided that relevant clauses of the AML Act will be included in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.
It was proposed that FERA 1947 should be amended to increase the punishment for an offence under the law from two years' imprisonment to five years. Through the proposed amendment, offences under FERA will be made cognizable and non-bailable. The trial of such will be completed between six months and one year.
The director general of the Federal Investigation Agency briefed the prime minister about his agency's performance in money laundering-related cases between November 2018 and February 2019.
The meeting was informed that the FIA registered 131 cases under FERA and AML Act in which Rs423.30 million were confiscated and 198 people arrested.
The gathering was also briefed about the action taken on information regarding suspicious transactions and on complaints concerning cryptocurrency. Investigations are being carried out as part of cryptocurrency inquiries involving about Rs540 million, the meeting was told.
'Visible decrease in Hawala and Hundi'
The prime minister was briefed about the progress regarding the elimination of 'benami' accounts, properties held by Pakistanis in the UAE and money laundering cases.
FIA officials told the meeting that as a result of strict measures taken by the agency, there was a visible decrease in Hawala and Hundi cases and currently there was a difference of just 15 paisas in dollar rates of open market and interbank.
The prime minister was also told that there was a 12 per cent improvement in foreign remittances sent by overseas Pakistanis between July and February this fiscal.
The chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue briefed the prime minister about actions taken regarding money laundering and properties held by Pakistanis abroad. He said that the customs and inland revenue intelligence would be made powerful and effective under the anti-money laundering law.
The meeting was informed that under the currency declaration system, a total of 11,335 declarations were made at 24 points which amount to nearly $171.3 million.
Meanwhile, customs officials informed the government that currency and other commodities worth Rs314 million were confiscated from November 2018 to February 2019. They said this amount was just Rs61 million during the same period last year, and so it witnessed an increase of 415pc.
Customs received 335 reports of suspicious transactions, following which inquiries were started against 510 people and Rs6,600 million have been recovered so far.