Pakistan seeks to curb money laundering ahead of crucial review

The FATF, in a statement issued in February, had termed Pakistan’s progress on the implementation of its action plan as “limited” and asked Islamabad to address all strategic deficiencies. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 March 2019

Pakistan seeks to curb money laundering ahead of crucial review

  • Devises measures to make it a non-bailable offense with a maximum sentence of 10 years
  • Country could be removed from global watchdog’s grey list if analysis fair, experts say

KARACHI: Pakistan’s chances of being removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list remained on track, with experts telling Arab News on Thursday that a lot would be based on a “fair review of its progress.”
Their comments were in the wake of an announcement a day earlier whereby Pakistan had said that it would amend its Anti-Money Laundering Act as a measure.
If implemented, the proposed changes to the legal framework would make money laundering a non-bailable offense with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, a fine of up to Rs5 million, and forfeiture of property involved in the offense or any property of corresponding value.
“FATF’s decision to allow more time to Pakistan to meet all the requirements to come out of the grey list gave the government a breathing space. Now, officials are making the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, more effective to cover Benami accounts [or accounts opened in other people’s names] and assets. For this purpose, after a delay of nearly two years, the Benami Transactions Prohibition Act of 2017 has also been notified,” Dr. Ikram ul Haq, an expert on financial and legal matters, told Arab News.
The FATF, in a statement issued in February, had termed Pakistan’s progress on the implementation of its action plan as “limited” and asked Islamabad to address all strategic deficiencies.
“Pakistan has revised its TF [terror financing] risk assessment. However, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of the TF risks posed by Da’esh (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, JuD [Jamaat-ud-Dawa], FIF [Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation], LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba], JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammad], HQN [Haqqani Network] and persons affiliated with the Taliban,” the statement added.
However, people involved in the action plan and its implementation believe that the country would be removed from the grey list provided that an impartial review was conducted.
“Pakistan has made huge progress in implementing the AML [anti-money laundering] laws. In fact, our laws are far better than India’s. They [FATF] should also share progress of other countries with us. I am sure if a fair review is conducted, Pakistan would be out of the grey list,” Ashfaq Yousuf Tola, a senior chartered accountant who is privy to developments related to the subject, told Arab News.
Pakistan believes that in the presence of India, FATF would not be able to do a fair review. Recently, Finance Minister Asad Umar had asked the global watchdog’s president to appoint any other FATF member as the co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Joint Group in place of India “to ensure that FATF review process is fair, unbiased and objective.”
“Our AML and Benami laws are almost the same as those of India and our implementation is far better than India,” Tola, who has always maintained that Pakistan’s inclusion in the grey list was unfair, said.
According to Dr. Haq, Pakistan faces the challenge of enforcement since “enormous funds are invested in real estate where ‘benamidars’ [or name-lenders] are used to disguise the real ownership and sources of funds.”
“The PTI government,” he added, “has decided to remove all such legal lacunae. Once it is done and a proper crackdown is launched against the offenders, there are chances that the country would get its name removed from the grey list.”

Sharif's doctor warns of 'life threatening' cardiac, renal conditions if ignored

Updated 7 min 48 sec ago

Sharif's doctor warns of 'life threatening' cardiac, renal conditions if ignored

  • His kidney disease is at stage 3 with kidney function further deteriorating, claims daughter
  • Punjab government spokesman says Sharif’s health stable, government providing all necessary medical facilities

LAHORE: The personal physician of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said that Sharif was at the risk of developing “life threatening” cardiac and renal conditions even as a spokesman for the Punjab government said the jailed ex-premier’s health was stable and he was receiving the necessary medical attention.

Sharif is currently serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.

“The medical condition of Mian Nawaz Sharif is worsening,” his personal physician Dr. Adnan Khan told Arab News. “Turning a blind eye to the situation and [having a] callous attitude towards his health can lead to life threatening health issues, cardiac and renal both,” he said.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz has tweeted several times in recent days demanding that he be treated by doctors of his choice.

“Just got back after meeting MNS [Mian Nawaz Sharif],” she said in a Twitter post on March 23. “His doctor’s concern was not unfounded. The blood tests done yesterday reveal a further raise in his CREATININE levels which means his kidney function has deteriorated. His kidney disease is already at stage 3. The pain in the flanks persists.”

Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a spokesman for the Punjab government, denied that Sharif was being neglected by authorities and said his health was stable.

“The health condition of Mian Nawaz Sharif was satisfactory and the government was providing every possible facility to him,” Gill said in a video message on twitter. “He (Nawaz Sharif) always has a choice to get examined by any doctor in any hospital of Pakistan at any time.”

A urologist appointed by the Punjab government to examine the jailed former prime minister said in his report: “All lab investigations are within normal limits.”

The Punjab Minister for Health, Dr. Yasmeen Rashed, has also said reports pertaining to Sharif’s kidneys were “okay.”

Last month, Sharif was sent back to jail from the Services Hospital in Lahore after he refused to be shifted to any of the three health facilities offered by the Punjab government.

Members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party accuse the Sharif family of using Sharif’s health as a ruse to get him out of the country. However, the family has been insisting for weeks that he is seriously ill and not receiving the necessary care.

On Monday, while speaking to journalists in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan asked why the Sharifs, who had ruled the country in the center and the Punjab province for decades, did not "build one hospital where they themselves could be treated," criticizing the former premier's demand of getting medical treatment in London.