ISLAMABAD - The authorities have finalised rules regarding freezing and seizure of assets of proscribed organisations and persons on Schedule-IV of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 and these are with Law and Justice Division for vetting.
The government had constituted a Prime Minister's Sub-Committee on Choking Financing for Terrorists and Terrorist Organizations under National Action Plan (NAP). Numerous actions have been taken by federal, provincial governments and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) under recommendations of this committee.
Highlighting the steps taken by government under NAP for obstructing financing for terrorist organizations in the country so far, sources at Interior and Narcotics Control Division on Sunday said under ATA 1997, designated/proscribed entities and individuals are prohibited from opening of bank accounts and/or availing any facility from financial institutions in Pakistan.
Accordingly, the sources said banks have reported freezing of 4,461 bank accounts, amounting to around Rs. 400 million, pertaining to persons on 4th Schedule of ATA, 1997.
The other step was strengthening of implementation of ATA provisions relating to terror financing (TF) through capacity building, enforcement actions and frequent use of proscription of terrorist organisations.
Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) is arranging capacity building programmes in coordination with national and international stakeholders. The programmes are meant to train law enforcement agencies (LEAs), regulators, federal and provincial police for investigating the TF cases.
The sources said SBP has also arranged capacity building programme for LEAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Quetta on matters related to foreign exchange, anti-money laundering (AML), banking policies & inspections in which 65 officers from various LEAs have participated.
Moreover, with regard to use of illegal/informal remitters (hawala /hundi) for criminal activities including TF, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has taken action against hawala/hundi. Action is taken on suspicious transaction reports (STR) as well, AML Act 2010 is strictly implemented, notification of additional predicate offences has also been issued, whereby relevant sections of Foreign Exchange Regulations Act 1947 dealing with Halawa business have been included in Schedule of AML Act 2010, as predicate offences.
The sources said FMU has been disseminating financial intelligence reports relating to hawala/hundi operators, to FIA for further inquiry and added FMU has disseminated financial intelligence reports to FIA on terrorism related suspicion, which are under inquiry.
Similarly, the sources said with regard to initiatives for an effective law to regulate and monitor activities of NPOs/NGOs/charities, National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has constituted a task force for drafting a comprehensive model law for orderly operations and effective monitoring of NGOs and charities.
In October 2016, Ministry of Interior promulgated International NGOs Policy and started online registration. So far, 51 NGOs have been registered/approved.
Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has also taken considerable steps for re-registration of NPOs/NGOs under section 42 of Companies' Ordinance 1984. Out of 793 registered NGOs, 501 required renewal of licences. The licences of 162 NGOs were renewed while that of 240 were revoked. The cases of revoked NGOs were referred to SBP for freezing of their accounts.
Regarding implementation of regime for cross border movement of currencies, SBP in light of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations regarding declaration of money by in-bound passengers also issued money declaration from (CD-I).
Finance Division in consultation with SBP has issued instructions to Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for effective implementation of currency declaration for incoming passengers, the limit of which is US$ 10,000/person.
Suspicious transaction reports (STRs) having connection with smuggling and Afghan Transit trade business are being disseminated to FBR for further inquiry, the sources said, and added, threshold of reporting of cash-based transactions reduced gradually. Ministry of Finance through notification also lowered currency transaction report (CTR) indicating threshold from Rs 2.5 million to Rs 2 million.
The sources said under regulatory controls, banks cannot provide any banking services to proscribed entities/persons or to those who are known to be associated with them.
This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 20-Mar-2017 here.