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Pakistani team off to China for APG meeting

Updated May 14, 2019

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The delegation is led by Finance and Revenue Secretary Mohammad Younas Dagha.  — Dawn Newspaper
The delegation is led by Finance and Revenue Secretary Mohammad Younas Dagha. — Dawn Newspaper

ISLAMABAD: A 10-member official delegation has left for Guangzhou, China, to attend “Face-to-Face Meeting” of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group (APG) — a regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — where it will defend Pakistan’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing.

Read: Islamabad ready to fight its case before FATF, NA body told

The delegation led by Finance and Revenue Secretary Mohammad Younas Dagha comprises director generals of the foreign affairs ministry, National Counter Terrorism Authority and Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), a joint secretary of the interior ministry, chief customs of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), executive directors of the State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and a director of the Federal Investigation Agency.

The APG meeting is scheduled for May 15-16 in Guangzhou. Pakistan has already submitted a report of its actions and activities taken against proscribed organisations and strengthening of systems to block illegal flow of funds that could be used against any state or considered a threat to global financial systems.

Ten-member delegation will defend Islamabad’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing

Before the delegation’s departure, the government revised its national risk assessment of the corporate sector, strengthened customs procedures on borders and inland movement of funds and assets and put nine more entities on the list of proscribed organisations to build a robust case of its exit from FATF’s grey list.

A senior government official said the internal control of the banking and non-banking financial institutions, insurance companies and stock exchanges had been strengthened on the directives of the federal government and the SBP to check and curb the possibility of money laundering and terror financing. The accounts openings are now subject to additional checks to keep a check on the proscribed entities.

The government had last week ordered creation of a specialised directorate of Cross Border Currency Movement (CBCM) in Islamabad to maintain a data base of currency seizures. All the model customs formations are required to report on a prescribed format each currency seizure on a fortnightly basis. These reports are then shared with the FMU and FBR on a monthly basis or when called for. The new CBCM will also maintain and update database of the suspicious transaction reports and ensure information sharing with the law enforcement agencies, FMU and FBR on a real time basis.

Read: Customs introduces policy to curb terror financing

A Data and Risk Analysis Cell has also been created to conduct regular analysis of data pertaining to currency seizures, currency declarations, banking transactions, benami accounts, transaction, etc, and continuously update measures to combat money laundering.

Investigating officers have also been designated to institute money laundering cases emanating from STRs or currency seizures or from other sources and complaints filed in courts. It has been decided that investigation and prosecution of cases will be conducted under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010, Customs Act of 1969 and Criminal Procedure Code 1898.

Last week, the government placed nine fresh entities on the list of proscribed organisations, taking the tally to 71. Seven of them were declared proscribed for being affiliated with Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), while two were affiliates of the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). The new entrants to the list of banned outfits are: Al Anfal Trust (Lahore), Idara-i-Khidmat Khalaq (Lahore), Al Dawatul Irshad (Lahore), Al Hamd Trust (Lahore and Faisalabad), Mosque and Welfare Trust (Lahore), Al Madinah Foundation (Lahore), Muaz bin Jabal Education Trust (Lahore), Al Eesar Foundation (Lahore), Al Rehmat Trust Organisation (Bahawalpur) and Al Furqan Trust (Karachi).

In March this year, the law enforcement agencies had launched a major crackdown on Jaish-e-Mohammad, JuD, FIF and other banned outfits and taken over control of their assets throughout the country under the international pressure increased through the Paris-based FATF.

The investigating officers have been directed to focus on personal and family association with any religious, political, social organisations or groups, travel history, past record and professional history of the individuals while investigating money laundering cases in general and currency seizure cases in particular.

The investigation officers are also required to study motives and linkages of each currency smuggling case with any of the associated offences such as trade-based money laundering, capital flight, hundi/hawala and examine if there is any linkage of terror financing related to transnational terrorist networks or United Nations-designated entities and individuals.

The possibilities of involvement of any foreign networks other than transnational terrorist networks have also been given top priority for investigation and to see if cash smuggling is actually used by the proscribed entities. The data from advance declarations from airports, airlines, ports and borders are also being gathered.

An APG delegation had last month expressed serious reservations over insufficient physical actions on ground against the proscribed organisations to block flow of funds and activities and most of the recent activities were targeted to bridge those shortcomings.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2019