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Tuesday Aug 11 2020
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NA committee passes Anti-Money Laundering 2nd Amendment Bill 2020 amid opposition's protests

The government on Monday bulldozed the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) 2nd Amendment Bill 2020 through the National Assembly. Photo: File

ISLAMABAD: Amidst an uproar from the Opposition, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance approved the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) 2nd Amendment Bill 2020 through the National Assembly, on Monday, reported The News. 

Terming the approval of the Bill as “bulldozing”, Opposition members said none of their proposals, including parliamentary oversight through the inclusion of parliamentarians from Opposition in high powered National Executive Committee for curbing its misuse for political victimisation, granting powers to NAB, making money laundering as a cognizable offence, placing jewellery, real estate and other services and business activities into more difficulties, were included in the Bill.

PML-N’s Ayesha Ghous Pasha told The News after the meeting that none of the Oppositions proposals were accepted and the bill was cleared in haste by the treasury benches.

The NA Standing Committee on Finance under the chairmanship of Faiz Ullah Kamoka cleared the Bill within 25 minutes with a majority as nine votes from the treasury benches supported the Bill while six members belonging to the Opposition benches, had voted the amendment down.

Kamoka said that they deliberated on the Bill for seven hours during the last meeting so the objections raised by the opposition would be made part of the approved bill. However, opposition members were of the view that there was dictation from somewhere for approving the Bill so the treasury benches 'bulldozed' it without listening to anything.

Pasha said the treasury benches were lenient till last Friday but some advice from the top forced them to bulldoze the bill too early, too quick. “The Opposition is aware of the intricacies involved because of the FATF but this law could have been improved with the suggestion tabled by the opposition benches.”

She added the government provided incentives to the property and construction sector by introducing an amnesty scheme. However, Pasha said that now the AML second amendment bill placed more restrictions on these sectors so the government's actions were self-contradictory, indicating that they were confused themselves.

At the beginning of the proceedings, PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar argued that they had concerns for inclusion of NAB as part of this anti-money laundering bill.

DG Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) Lubna Farooq defended NAB’s role in the AML law and said the Bureau was working with many other agencies and excluding the NAB at this point would not be possible.

Former foreign minister and PPP leader Hina Rabbani Khar termed the proposed law as "draconian", saying it would create a lot of difficulties for the economy.

In the proposed second amendment AML law, the penalty on money laundering on an individual has been increased from Rs5 million to Rs25 million, and for institution and company to Rs100 million. The law also envisages a National Executive Committee (NEC) for implementation on the recommendations.

Financial institutes would be required to provide information for suspicious transactions and also, required to maintain records of financial transactions for a five-year period.