ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has established a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) cell to ensure an effective and timely implementation of measures against terror financing carried out through currency smuggling.
The cell will seek information required for FATF-related work from the FBR, field formations, directorates and record of meetings. The FATF cell will serve as a focal point for all activities related to customs compliance for FATF issues.
The Financial Action Task Force cell has been placed under the Director General of Intelligence and Investigation, Islamabad.
According to the notification, customs officer Waheed Marwat has been appointed head of the cell.
Cell will seek information about FATF-related work from FBR, field formations, directorates and record of meetings
He will also look after the charge of director, directorate of cross border currency movement. One of the major initiatives of the FATF recommendations is the establishment of the directorate of cross-border currency movement, which is mainly responsible for developing a national-level profile of currency traffickers.
Another customs officer, Muhammad Asif, stands transferred and posted as additional director FATF cell; Wajid Zaman as deputy director, FATF cell; Zahoor Ahmed Mughal as superintendent FATF cell and Sajid Mehboob as intelligence officer of the Financial Action Task Force cell.
One of the FATF’s major recommendations for the Pakistan Customs is to effectively deal with currency smuggling, a source of trade-based money laundering and terror financing, particularly at entry and exit points of the country, and to install a system for tracking the money trail.
A custom officer said that the customs department had arrested 144 people in currency smuggling cases over the last five years, more than 30 of them during the outgoing fiscal year.
The customs department is determining whether those involved in currency trafficking had any link with terrorist organisations or not. The investigation will also identify the end use of cash smuggling proceeds and investigate travel history of the arrested persons to ascertain whether the money being generated through cash smuggling was used by proscribed entities and individuals.
In case any link is found with terror financing, the information will be shared with the customs department and other law enforcement agencies.
On the enforcement side, Pakistan Customs has seized currency worth Rs485 million for FY 2018-19, as against Rs157m seized over the corresponding period last year. It shows that since July 2018, the enforcement drive has produced desired results in the wake of effective enforcement of measures to curb smuggling.
In the last five years, the total amount of currency confiscated stood at Rs911m in 118 cases. In the prosecution of arrested 144 people, 65 were convicted and 19 acquitted by the court. The court imposed Rs18.01m fine in these cases.
For enhancing international cooperation in controlling smuggling, the Pakistan Customs has so far signed 22 MoUs/agreements with foreign governments/customs administrations for cooperation.
Under these agreements, requests for mutual legal assistance have been sent to foreign counterparts for identification of linkages in currency seizures.
On the enforcement side, the customs official said, the Currency Declaration System had been put in place at 24 airports where every outgoing and incoming passenger would have to declare the cash they possessed on voluntary basis.
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2019