The Asia Pacific Group (APG) under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) showed serious concern about Nepal's delay in approving the Bill against Organised Crime during the face-to-face meeting concluded in Hong Kong today.
The face-to-face meet on January 14-18 has shown concern as the country has repeatedly failed to fulfill its international commitment to approve the Bill against Organised Crime also due to the ruling UCPN-Maoist's internal dispute, as it suspects that most of their leaders and cadres will be booked, if it is implemented.
Nepal had committed to approve three key Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, Extradition Bill and Bill against Organised Crime — by December 2010, but has been able to approve only Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill.
"The Bill against Organised Crime is key among the three," a member of the Nepali team said, adding that the government's delay in approving the Bill might hit the country as it will have serious ramifications like the arrest of Colonel Kumar Lama in the UK due to the country not living up to its international commitments. "Failure to approve the Bill against Organised Crime could lead the country to a high risk zone to do business with international players."
However, the Nepali team informed the meeting that the government has already forwarded the Bill as an ordinance to the President due to the absence of a parliament and it will be approved soon.
Approval of the Bill against Organised Crime is important for the country to escape blacklisting by FATF — an inter-governmental body consisting of 36 member-jurisdictions and a number of observers — during the February plenary in Paris, he added. "The country has repeatedly failed to live up to its global commitment in the fight against the flow of dirty money," he said, adding that last time too, the country had escaped blacklisting as it had approved the two Bills.
"Though the Nepali team informed the APG of prolonged political transition and deepening Constitutional crisis, the plenary on February 18-22 in Paris, will decide the country's fate," he said, adding that the APG was, however, satisfied with the second amendment of the Anti Money Laundering Act, and some legal and technical progress.
The country has, according to its commitment, prepared a draft of second amendment of Anti Money Laundering Act, which is under discussion. Likewise, the Insurance Board and Securities Board of Nepal have also brought regulations to check the flow of dirty money, besides the restructuring of the Department of Anti-Money Laundering and independency of the Financial Information Unit under the central bank.
However, the Department of Anti-Money Laundering has seen four chiefs in less than two years of its establishment due to the incumbent government's pressure to not file cases against Politically Exposed Persons and gangsters, who have accumulated wealth without any legal source of income.Law secretary Bhesraj Sharma led the Nepali team — that included finance secretary Shantaraj Subedi, deputy governor of the central bank Maha Prasad Adhikari, director general of Department of Anti-Money Laundering Surya Prasad Acharya — at the face-to-face meet in Hong Kong last week. The meeting will report to FATF — global standard setter for anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism — on February 18-22, which will decide Nepal's fate.