Proposal to arrest money laundering suspects without warrants rejected

Senate body fears the draft law will give FIA extraordinary powers to arrest anyone

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ISLAMABAD: Despite a review request by the Ministry of Finance, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Friday rejected the draft law to arrest suspects of money laundering without arrest warrant.

The finance ministry needed this law to meet the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The draft law that was approved by the National Assembly and its standing committee but was objected by the upper house’s committee, saying that it would give extraordinary power to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest anyone without any notice and arrest warrant.

However, after recommending a few changes, the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Farooq H Naik, approved the Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2019.

Earlier, Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) Director General Mansoor Siddique briefed the committee on the proposed bill. He said that the government has proposed to attach for one year the properties of those people who had charges of money laundering.

The parliamentary panel approved the proposal to attach properties for six months to one year during investigations.

Taking another major decision, the Senate committee approved the initial investigation into money laundering cases by the FMU instead of other law enforcement agencies like FIA and police.

The committee further approved a 10-year sentence for money laundering, against the existing punishment of one to 10 years, besides a penalty of Rs10 million. The committee, in its previous meeting, had decided to keep the imprisonment term unchanged at 1-10 years and approved an increase in the fine amount from Rs1 million to Rs5 million.

The senators had disagreed with the impression from the government side that these amendments would strengthen its position before the FATF. They remarked that these issues could easily be settled with a better exchange of information among the financial institutions and improved governance.

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