ISLAMABAD   -  More than 500 professionals from the securities and commodities market, insurance sector, non-banking financial institutions (NBFI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) attended 20 awareness sessions on anti-money laundering/counter financing for terrorism (AML/CFT).

The SECP held these sessions in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad in collaboration with USAID’s Financial Market Development (FMD) project. The sessions were designed to help representatives of financial institutions understand the risk-based approach under the AML/CFT framework and focused on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations applicable to the financial institutions and the FATF monitoring process.

Tariq Bakhtawar, Director, SECP Anti-Money Laundering Department said, “With USAID FMD’s technical support, the SECP regulated sectors were briefed on AML/CFT self-assessment. This will result in the laying the necessary foundations for the implementation of a risk-based approach.”

The SECP’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations (June 2018) and the supplementary guidelines (issued in September 2018) shift the perspective from one-size-fits-all to the risk-based approach, enabling financial institutions to focus their resources on the high-risk customers. These sessions focused on capacity building of the regulated sector, explained the AML/CFT risk assessment in relation to customer, countries, products and services and delivery channels through illustrations and case studies and tables leading through the process.

The sessions have resulted in strengthening the AML/CFT risk assessment and compliance framework and in particular, the detecting and reporting of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) to the Financial Monitoring Unit. Areas discussed in the SECP AML/CFT Guidelines include the AML/CFT compliance assessment checklist alongside internal policies, ongoing monitoring, customer due diligence measures and red flags and high-risk indicators- all part of the AML/CFT program.

Participants’ queries on the implementation of the risk-based approach were also addressed at these interactive sessions. "This session has helped us understand a very technical area on which we will be working in the future," said Rauf Sajid Ali, of Yasir Habib Securities. Amara Zakaria, head of compliance at First National Equities, remarked, “The sessions were helpful to me in training the team at the compliance department.”

USAID’s Financial Market Development Activity is a multi-year project, which promotes the development of competitive and diversified debt capital market in Pakistan working with Ministry of Finance, the State Bank and the SECP and a number of other capital and financial market sector institutions.