Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maoist faction wants AML Bills to wait, Nepal could be blacklisted

Chief whip of UCPN–Maoist Dev Gurung today hinted that his party will not allow the government to pass any Bill related to Anti Money Laundering (AML) before the new constitution is drafted.
In a programme organised here at the Finance Ministry today, Gurung clarified that his party will not allow parliament to pass the Bills until the current political transition ends.
Nepal has to pass the three pending Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, Extradition Bill and Bill Against Organised Crime — by the end of April to meet its international commitment to fight against the flow of dirty money.
Nepal had sought a two-month extension to pass the three pending Bills during the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — a global anti-money laundering agency — which took place in Paris on February 15-17.During FATF/Asia-Pacific Regional Review group’s face-to-face meeting last week in India, the global body has warned that it will blacklist Nepal.
"Formulating Acts and regulations is a completely national issue so it will not be justifiable to pass the Bills in a hurry just because of threats from FATF," he said, adding that FATF can provide suggestions to the government but it cannot dictate terms. "We will agree to the suggestions if it is in the national interest."
He further claimed that the country has enough laws and regulations to control money laundering. "Money laundering is related to financial crime but the proposed Bills have incorporated more political issues than financial crime," he argued, adding that the pressure to endorse the Bills at a time when the country is passing through a political transition is virtually impossible.
However, contrary to Gurung's view, finance minister Barshaman Pun, who is from the same party, said that endorsing the three pending Bills is the need of the hour to curb the illegal flow of black money.
"Nepal has to pass the three Bills to fulfill its commitments to FATF in fighting the flow of dirty money," he reiterated.
At the programme, deputy governor of the central bank Maha Prasad Adhikari said that Nepal's credibility in the international arena will be under question if the country fails to meet its commitments despite repeated pressure and time extension from the international community. Nepal had promised to pass the Bills by December 2010.
The country needs to pass the three Bills to protect the financial system, prevent criminals from enjoying the proceeds of crimes, and to prevent criminals from building formidable economic powers and challenge stability.
"It is a complex task that requires courage and competency, said Adhikari, adding that it also involved a huge amount of resources.
Nepal has already ratified the UN Conventions and amended the Anti Money Laundering Act according to its international commitment but it has yet to enact the AML Act, Organised Crime Act and Extradition Act that are in the parliament as Bills.
"The basic objective of the international commitment in fighting against the flow of dirty money is to improve compliance so that Nepal becomes a fraud-less, crime-free, and non-corrupt society," he added.


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