LAHORE  -   Speakers at a seminar have stressed the need of measures to curb the menace of money laundering without creating difficulties for honest businessmen. They were of the view that devastating effects of money laundering on economy were hard to count.

“It damages not only the financial institutions directly but also country’s productive activities in various sectors of economy”, they said while addressing a seminar on money laundering at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) jointly organized the event.

Additional Director General FIA Basharat Mahmood Shahzad, LCCI President Almas Hyder, Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir, Vice President Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal, former SVPs Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Amjad Ali Jawa, former Vice President Kashif Anwar and Executive Committee members spoke on the occasion.

Basharat Mahmood Shahzad said that “money laundering is a process through which criminal conceal the origin of money earned through illegal means and make it appear as legitimate by performing a number of complex transactions”.

He said that money laundering was conducted to conceal illegal activities, quick disposal of cash in bulk, to conceal illegal resource of income, to make it look legal, to conceal ownership and to use it for pleasure/extension of network. He said that there was need to keep check on movement of money to ensure external and internal security of the country. He said that proceed of crime, financial transaction, knowledge and concealment were the major elements of money laundering. He said that unsubstantiated wealth, large amount of cash, irregular work/travel patterns, suspicious banking and no apparent job were common indicators of money laundering. He informed the participants that FIA was taking measures to control money laundering through information, border detections, undercover operations and surveillance measures. He also threw light on the relevant laws like Anti Money Laundering Act, 2010, Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947, Section 109, 406, 409, 419, 420, 468, 471 of Pakistan Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, Customs Act, 1969 and NAB Ordinance. He said that government was going to introduce new act in this regard as well.

“Money laundering is a transactional crime and is the root cause of many systemic economic, social and political problems of Pakistan”, he concluded.

Almas Hyder said that business community should be given awareness. He said that businessmen were facing a serious issue in sending payments abroad to the suppliers especially in case of small consignments. They do not accept L/Cs for small payments owing to high banking charges rather they ask for transfers of funds through TTs. “We need to know the mechanism to avoid this problem while carrying on with our normal business terms with foreign companies”, he said.

Similarly, during travelling abroad, the businessmen have to carry sufficient amount of foreign currency for business purposes. “We want to know if there is any distinction between a business traveler and a normal traveler for carrying certain amount of foreign currency”, he added.

Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal said that government has to keep a check on supply of dollars in the country because in case of shortage, the dollar price goes up and it causes inflation. The procedure of sending payments to the suppliers through banks has become overly complicated due to various checks and balances that have been put in place by the government to maintain the desired supply of dollars. “There should be a fine balance in this regard so that the businesses are not unnecessarily burdened”, they said.