ISLAMABAD: Money laundering is basically the money generated by dirty way and tried to convert it through legitimate sources, this process called money laundering. Corruption itself is not money laundering but the money generated via corruption will be called money laundering.
This was explained by Barrister Aun Muhammad, the renowned expert on matters relating to money laundering, while giving an exclusive interview to Customs Today.
He said that it will be better if ”we contain financial losses like money laundering” as West has made strict checks on said issues. The money which is confiscated from money launderers goes to national treasury which boosts up the economy.
During the interview, Barrister Aun Muhammad answered several questions very briefly.
CT: Is there any law in Pakistan which can bar the money laundering?
Aun Muhammad: Yes money laundering Act 2010 is in field and working in Pakistan but it got dormant because of lack of interest of past governments regarding anti-money laundering issue. If money laundering Act 2010 has to be applied in Pakistan, there are many things urgently needed to be changed, for example “if someone standing in front of an agency person says that he has done money laundering. Unfortunately the Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) person can’t arrest him because LEA person has no authority to arrest rather he will have to get permission from the court to arrest the suspect”.
CT: What is role of LEAs regarding prevention of money laundering in Pakistan?
Aun Muhammad: There are five LEAs those have been provided powers by the money laundering Act, these agencies are NAB, FIA, ANF, Directorate of Customs Intelligence & Investigation (I&I) and Inland Revenue (IR); whereas during the last 8 years, all the LEAs registered only 5 to 10 cases which shows that previous governments did not take this issue seriously.
CT: What will be the government’s role as task force to curb money laundering has been formed?
Aun Muhammad: Recent federal government has formed a Task Force headed by Special Assistant to PM on Accountability but it is very strange that Task Force is just concentrating on NAB and NAB Ordinance relating matters. The Task Force quietly ignore the ANF, FIA, I&I and IR departments. The government has announced that it will amend NAB Ordinance ignoring anti-money laundering law of 2010, those agencies who have to enforce the said law of money laundering. There are two agencies working under the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) comprising IR and I&I who got powers of anti- money laundering since 2010.
CT: Is there any procedure adopted at border areas of Pakistan to prevent money laundering activities?
Aun Muhammad: Look; first of all if the government is serious to stop money laundering as well as it wants to make amendments in anti-money laundering act then initially borders come first, especially Afghan border from where importers and exporters do exchange money, secondly airports and thirdly seaports after that it is most important to enforce the anti-money laundering act.
CT: Do you believe that flight of capital to abroad can be stopped and the money can be brought back to country?
Aun Muhammad: When flight of capital occurs in any country, its economy becomes ill as well as when you ask to other countries to bring your looted currency back to your country it also causes damage to other countries as they will not agree with you. It is wrong thinking if you expect from UAE or Western countries that they will send back currency to your country because this issue has huge economic dimensions rather legal dimensions, through the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992, $11 billion were sent to West. We provided open permission through said Act to the people to shift money to abroad and now we expect from those countries like Panama and others that they will easily return our money, it seems very difficult.
CT: What do you suggest that how new government could apply anti-money laundering Act better than previous governments?
Aun Muhammad: I request to the current federal government that if they will not follow the anti-money laundering act properly, then it will turn out to be harmful for economy of the country.