ISLAMABAD - The Financial Management Unit (FMU) of State Bank of Pakistan on Wednesday told a Senate committee that it had sent 34 cases of terror-financing under Suspicious Transaction Reports (STR), during the last four years to the four major investigation agencies for further interrogation.

Director Financial Management Unit Mohammad Mansoor Ali, briefing Senate Standing Committee on Finance Revenue and Economic Affairs, said FMU had sent 34 intelligence-based terror-financing cases to four major investigation agencies for further interrogation that included Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Customs and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).

The Senate standing committee, which met under the chair of Senator Nasreen Jalil, discussed the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2014. The PML-N government had presented the bill in the Senate to introduce amendments to four relevant laws for declaring tax evasion as an offence related to money laundering to meet a condition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that calls for cracking down on growing tax evasion in the country.

During the discussion on the proposed bill, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) asked about the performance of the FMU. Mansoor Ali informed that FMU had sent 34 terror-financing cases under STRs after amendment in the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, 2010.

Before the promulgation of the bill, the FMU had sent 5,775 terror-financing cases under STR and Currency Transaction Reports (CTR), during 2004 to 2010 to the investigation agencies for further interrogation.

Among 5,775 cases referred to investigation agencies, said director FMU, 350 were sent to FIA, out of which 112 were under investigation, 200 people were arrested, accounts of 300 people had been frozen and 75 cases were sent to NAB.

Governor State Bank (SB) Ashraf Mehmood Wathra once said, “Things are going beyond secrecy, so we should stop here.” However, statement of Governor SBP annoyed Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, as she said, “Now the bureaucracy would give parliamentarians guidelines regarding committee proceedings.”

Earlier, Senators showed serious reservations over some of new clauses of proposed Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2014 by saying it would be unreasonable to add tax evasion under the offences of money laundering. Similarly, lawmakers expressed concerns over another clause which says that any property connected with the offence of money laundering could be confiscated or action could be taken against it.

"How it is possible, tax laws are there to deal with tax evasion, then you can take action against anyone under the money laundering laws," Salim Mandviwala said. "We will not let this bill passed easily through the committee," Fateh Husseni said. Senator Saleem Mandviwala of PPP said financial action task force (TATF) had placed Pakistan on the black list, which was denied by Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood.

However, representatives of National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited and Bank Alfalah termed the Anti-Money Laundering (amendment) Bill 2014 a positive move. They said that bill would help facilitate their international business.  Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood Khan informed the committee that approval of Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill 2014 would help control tax evasion and generate revenue.

The committee reviewed the bill and decided to discuss further concerns and recommendations in its next meeting to be held today (Thursday).

Senators Syeda Sughra Imam, Haji Muhammad Adeel, Kulsoom Perveen, Islamuddin Sheikh, Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani, Muhammad Talha Mehmmood and Saleem H Mandviwala, Governor State Bank Ashraf Mehmood Wathra and other officials also attended the meeting.