The face-to-face meeting of the Regional Revenue Group and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has shown concerns regarding the approval of the Bill Against Organised Crime, operational independency of Financial Information Unit (FIU) and amendment of Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Though the meeting held in Sydney hailed Nepal's action plan on improving the legal and procedural environment in fighting against the flow of dirty money, it showed some concern on the delay in the approval of the Bill Against Organised Crime — one of the key Bills among the three — Nepal had long committed to approve, said deputy governor of the central bank Maha Prasad Adhikari.
Participants were interested in the process of how the Bill could be approved in the absence of a parliament and if it was on the government's priority list, he said, adding that the Nepali team led by finance secretary Krishna Hari Baskota, however, convinced them that the Bill would be approved at the earliest. Two Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill — were approved through ordinance on June 18 by the President, according to the country's international commitment.
Baskota, on the occasion, briefed the meeting of the country's effort to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act and its draft that is under consultation currently.
Nepal will have an amended Anti-Money Laundering Act before June 13, the deadline the country has submitted to the FATF — an inter-governmental policymaking body whose purpose is to establish international standards and to develop and promote policies, both at national and international levels, to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism — as it is already in the pipeline and also due to high-level political commitment to address the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
Similarly, the operational independency of FIU and its membership with the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units were also discussed in the meeting. "Though FIU is under the central bank, it is a fully independent entity," Adhikari informed the meeting that further discussed on making FIU fully automated.
The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units members are connected through a software that helps them exchange information on the flow of dirty money. "But FIU is still in the process of acquiring the software from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that helps harmonise the software of all member countries," he said, adding that Nepal has also requested donors for help in acquiring the UNODC software that will help mitigate risks when upgrading to a new software. "FIU's membership of Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units has been delayed due to the lack of the software."
Nepal also presented its 12-point AML guideline and progress on its fight against money laundering. The next face-to-face meeting will be held in January — by when the Bill Against Organised Crime is expected to be approved — and the FATF plenary will be held in October.