ISLAMABAD - The State Bank of Pakistan has imposed heavy penalty of Rs1.2 billion on different banks for violating SBP’s regulations on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

The central bank is vigorously keeping an eye on all the banks for following its directions on AML/CFT after a decision taken in National Action Plan (NAP).

The SBP had imposed penalty of Rs1.2 billion on different banks for violating SBP’s regulations on AML/CFT in the fiscal year ended on June 2015, according to the document of the central bank available with The Nation.

Earlier, the central bank imposed Rs117.3 million penalties on banks in fiscal year 2013-14, Rs136.5 million in 2012-13 and Rs26.9 million in the year 2011-12 for violating AML/CFT regulations.

A committee on implementation of NAP headed by Interior Minister Ch Nisar last year directed the SBP and other relevant departments to identify and block all means of funding to terrorists in the country.

The federal government had also asked the central bank to block all accounts, financial transactions and any other possible means of funding to the banned militant outfits, suspected individuals, shadowy NGOs and any other kind of organisation having connection with militant or terrorist activities.

The SBP had so far frozen 121 accounts belonging to proscribed organisations, having one billion rupees, said a senior official of the State Bank of Pakistan. He further said that interior ministry on its part had frozen eight accounts, carrying Rs3.5 million.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Wednesday also chaired a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Choking Financing for Terrorists and Terrorist Organisations constituted under Prime Minister’s Implementation Committee for National Action Plan on Counter Terrorism.

Representatives of different ministries, divisions and departments provided updates on implementation status of the decisions taken during the last meeting of the sub-committee.

On the efforts to eradicate the menace of Hundi and Havala, the meeting was apprised that Financial Monitoring Unit of the Finance Division has referred 49 reports about Hawala to Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) for inquiry between January and October in 2015.

SBP is also referring cases of illegal money remitters to the FIA. On the basis of these referrals, FIA has registered a number of cases and conducted effective investigations, the meeting was informed.

The meeting was informed in detail about the proscription process of UNSC-designated (Pakistani based) entities under the ATA-1997. It was informed that under SBP guidance banks are barred to render banking services to proscribed entities/individuals. Further, continuous monitoring and surveillance of the proscribed organisations and individuals is being carried out.

Regarding launching of broad-based national programme on capacity building of Law Enforcement Agencies and prosecutors in the subject of terrorist financing in all the provinces and police academies, the meeting was informed that Financial Monitoring Unit after consultation with stakeholders assessed the needs for law enforcement agencies at federal and provincial level on AML/CFT. The training needs were shared with Donors and Providers (DAP) and with their cooperation a number of capacity building programmes have been conducted on AML/CFT.

The finance minister appreciated the efforts of all the relevant departments and agencies involved in countering money laundering/terrorist financing. He said a consolidated report on actions taken by the government to counter money laundering and terrorist financing should be shared with the international community at the FATF forum, which was likely to meet in France in February 2016. Pakistan’s efforts in the spheres of countering terrorist financing should be strongly projected at the conference, the minister added.

Nation Monitoring adds:During the meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Pakistan Peoples’ Party MNA Nafeesa Shah raised the question that how can Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) declare an owner of a company as Raw agent. She, according a private TV channel report, said that FBR has no mandate to declare anyone the agent of RAW or any such agency.

FIA Director General Akbar Khan Hoti told the media yesterday they have tracked down those helping terrorists financially. He stated that after investigation through State Bank record, 18 such bank accounts have been detected which are linked to banned organisations. He informed that investigation against owners of these accounts was underway.

To a question, the DG stated that one of FIA’s officer Shahzad Haider was in Arab Emirates who will bring Aziz Baloch back to Pakistan soon.

In relation to prevention of cyber crimes, Hoti stated that a special help line 9911 has been established for eradication of cyber crimes. A website has also been developed in this regard. He stated that prevention of crimes committed on social media websites will now be possible.