Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nepal to face hard times in face-to-face in APG review meeting

Nepali participants in the face-to-face meeting of regional members on the fight against dirty money next month will face a tough time convincing members about the prolonged political transition that has pushed the approval of one of the critical Bills — Bill Against Organised Crime — further, though Nepal escaped from being blacklisted in June after the President approved two Bills.
Nepal will participate in the face-to-face review meeting in the third week of January in Hong Kong, informed deputy governor of central bank Maha Prasad Adhikari.
“The country will report its progress since the last meeting in September,”Adhikari said, adding that the country has made some progress in the last three months.
“The amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act is underway and is expected to be completed by July,” Adhikari added. “Likewise, operational independence and automation of Financial Information Unit (FIU) is also in process, though the process to buy software has failed twice. The third round has started and it might succeed in getting the software to link Financial Information Unit  with other global members.
In September too, the face-to-face meeting of the Regional Group and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had shown concerns regarding the approval of the Bill Against Organised Crime, operational independence of Financial Information Unit, and amendment of Anti-Money Laundering Act.
It had shown concern on the delay in the approval of the Bill Against Organised Crime — one of the key Bills among the three — which Nepal had long committed to approve.
The approval of the Bill will help the country present itself as a better investment destination that facilitates foreign direct investment.
The absence of a parliament, prolonged political bickering, and intra-party feud within UCPN-Maoist, have been making it difficult for caretaker prime minister-led government to approve the Bill Against Organised Crime, though two Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill — were approved through ordinance on June 18 by the President.
Earlier, Nepal had committed to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act before June 13, the deadline the country had submitted to the Financial Action Task Force  — an inter-governmental policymaking body whose purpose is to establish international standards and develop and promote policies, both at the national and international levels, to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Though the country had repeatedly been committing to address the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), it has been difficult also due to the CPN-Maoist which is opposed to the Bill.
CPN-Maoist has been criticising the Bill saying that it has incorporated more political issues than financial crime.
The operational independence of Financial Information Unit — that is under the central bank — and its membership with Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, however, is not a difficult task.
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 Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism is still in the process of acquiring the software that will harmonise the software of all member countries.
After the January 2013 face-to-face meeting in Hong Kong, the Financial Action Task Force plenary will meet in October 2013. The FATF's plenary is a decision making body on Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Financing of Terrorism that meets three times a year.
Nepal is a member of APG — under FATF — that is going to hold its 16th annual meeting  in Shanghai on July 15 - 19, 2013.

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