ISLAMABAD

The Senate Standing committee on Finance and Revenue on Wednesday approved the Anti Money Laundering bill with some amendments including bringing two sales tax and one federal excise duty offenses into ambit of AML.

The parliamentary committee has not approved to include income tax offences into ambit of AML as wanted by the government. Officials of the Ministry of Finance and Senators of ruling PML-N have stressed to bring income tax offences into AML. However, the committee having maximum number of opposition parties Senators has rejected the demand by not including income tax offence in AML, as they believed it would be misused.

PML-N Senators Ayesha Raza Farooq and Nuzhat Sadiq have written dissenting note on the bill for not including income tax offence in AML. The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue under the chair of Senator Saleem Mandviwalla approved the Anti Money Laundering bill in the absence of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Masood.

The Anti Money Laundering (amendment) bill has taken ten months for getting approval from the Parliamentary committee since February this year.

The two sales tax offences, which bring into ambit of AML included (a) any person who submits a false or forged document to any officer of inland revenue or (b) destroys, alters, mutilates, or falsifies the records including a sales tax invoice or (c) knowingly or fraudulently makes false statements, false declaration, false representations, false personification, gives any false information or issues or uses a document which is forged or false. The second sales tax offence, which will charge as AML is, any person who commits, causes to commit or attempts to commit the tax fraud or abet or connives in commissioning of tax fraud.

The FED offence, which is brought into AML is any person who (a) illegally removes, stores, keeps, or withdraws or in any way assists or is concerned in the illegal removal or withdrawal of any goods in the manner other than the manner prescribed under the act or rules; (b) is in any way concerned in conveying, removing, depositing or dealing with any goods with intent to defraud the government of any excise duty due thereon or to violate any of the provisions of this act or rules made there under; (c) is in any way concerned in any fraudulent evasion or attempt at fraudulent evasion of any duty of excise; (d) claims takes or avails adjustment of duty not admissible under this act or the rules.

Senators have shown concerns on including income tax offence into AML. "Common man will land in trouble after including income tax offence in Anti Money Laundering bill," said PML-Q Senator Kamil Ali Agha. He further said that if one comes under charges of money laundering, he would not be able to do business with any international firm.

Senator Ilyas Bilour of ANP also opposed to include income tax offence into AML. Common people could be trailed under anti money laundering due to the minor mistake of FBR's official, he added.

The FBR official pointed out that before prosecuting under the proposed AML laws, two forums of Commissioners' Appeal and Appellate Tribunal would be exhausted. If these two appellate forums have confirmed the tax evasion for the purpose of money laundering, only then action could be taken against any person under the AML.

Committee Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla and member Senator Ilyas Bilour said we do not trust in FBR's tribunals. "FBR's tribunal had asked me for bribe worth of Rs7.3 million. How can we trust on it," Bilour asked.

Pakistan is committed to IMF to adopt AML amendments by November 2015. The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue would present the Anti Money Laundering Bill with amendments in the Senate for approval. The Senate after approving the Bill would move it to the National Assembly again, as it will be passed from the Upper House of the parliament with amendments.