Govt-opposition body to discuss FATF bills on 14th

Published September 12, 2020
The sources said it was not the accountability law but issues related to civil liberty that hindered progress on the matter which was why the members could not develop a consensus. — Photo/File
The sources said it was not the accountability law but issues related to civil liberty that hindered progress on the matter which was why the members could not develop a consensus. — Photo/File

ISLAMABAD: The ‘informal’ committee comprising government and opposition lawmakers is likely to meet on Monday to try to end a deadlock on four bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Sources said the committee comprises Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha of the PML-N, and Farooq H. Naek and Sherry Rehman of the PPP.

Initially a 24-member committee, headed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and comprising members from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its allies and opposition parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party, examined the bills before tabling them in both the houses of parliament for final approval.

However, due to the deadlock on the proposed bill to amend the National Accountability Ordinance, the opposition members boycotted the meeting and subsequently, the committee stood dissolved.

NA speaker convinces both sides to meet

Sources said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser intervened and convinced the government and opposition parties to hold informal talks so that necessary FATF-related legislation could be finalised.

Pakistan has to submit a compliance report to FATF on September 30.

The sources said it was not the accountability law but issues related to civil liberty that hindered progress on the matter which was why the members could not develop a consensus.

They said out of 13 FATF-related bills, the other bills were about amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Evacuee Properties and Cooperative Societies Act.

According to the sources, the bills related to amendments to the Evacuee Properties and Cooperative Societies Act had almost been settled, but there was a stalemate on AMLA and CrPC’s amendment bills.

The amendment to Section 156-C of the CrPC empowers the investigation officer to “use techniques including but not limited to undercover operations, intercepting communications, assessing computer system and controlled delivery as provided in the rules for investigation of offences of money laundering, associated predicate offences and financing of terrorism under the law in force”.

Members of the opposition parties, the sources said, were reluctant to extend their support to the CrPC amendment bill since it was tantamount to giving permission to the investigation officer to intrude the privacy of a citizen.

The opposition wanted redrafting of the bill so that the terms “undercover operation, intercepting communications and accessing the computer system” may be explained and it could not be misused against people other than the culprits.

As far as the amendments in AMLA are concerned, the sources said the proposed draft empowered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to proceed against the suspects.

It said the opposition parties were of the view that since NAB could initiate proceedings against a suspect for money laundering, therefore, in the AMLA the bureau might be excluded from the list of the executing agencies in schedule offences of AMLA.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2020

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