ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Friday has approved Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) bill 2019 with some amendments.

The parliamentary committee has rejected the proposal of arresting suspects of money laundering without arrest warrant.

The Ministry of Finance has requested the committee to approve this amendment as it was one of conditions of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). However, the Senate body has not accepted the request by noting it would give extraordinary power to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest anyone without any notice and arrest warrants.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affair, which was presided over by Senator Farooq H. Niak, has discussed and approved the anti-money laundering bill, 2019. The National Assembly had already approved the bill.

Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) Director General (DG) Mansoor Siddique briefed the committee about the Anti-Money Laundering Bill 2019.  He said that the government had proposed to attach the properties for one year of those people who had charges of money laundering.

However, the parliamentary panel approved the proposal to attach properties on charges of money laundering for six months to one year during the investigation.

Senate committee has also approved the initial investigation into money laundering cases by the FMU instead of other law enforcement agencies like FIA and Police.

The committee also approved 10-year sentence for money laundering, against the existing punishment of one to 10 years besides a penalty of Rs10 million.

The senators had disagreed with the impression from the government side that these amendments would strengthen its position before the FATF that Pakistan was committed to ending money laundering and terror financing. They noted that these issues could easily be settled with better exchange of information among the financial institutions and improved governance.