President Dr Ram Baran Yadav today endorsed an ordinance on Organised Crime forwarded by the government.
The approval will not only help Nepal escape being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the global anti-money laundering watchdog — but also give teeth to Nepal Police to handle organised crime.
Currently, the police are facing difficulties in strongly charging criminals of organised crimes as most of them are tried under Public Offences Act, which is weaker.
"If three or more people in a group commit a crime or are involved in destruction of public property, the Organised Crime Act will be attracted and the police will prosecute them under the organised crime law," according to a high official at the Ministry of Law.
"It will, however, not bar anyone from forming a group for peaceful political activities," he added, adding tht the Act will also help check the rising donation terror and organised crime that have of late targetted the business community.
The country had committed to FATF that it would approve the Bills — Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, Extradition Bill, and Bill on Organised Crime — on three key UN conventions through parliament by December 2010, but they remained pending. The constituent assembly that also acted as a parliament was dissolved on May 27, 2012, forcing the government to recommend ordinances to the President, who had approved the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill and Extradition Bill, last July.
But the Ordinance on Organised Crime was still pending due to differences within the ruling UCPN-Maoist and other political parties.
"The approval will help us escape being blacklisted by FATF as it will reflect the country's international commitment in fighting the flow of dirty money," said deputy governor of the central bank Maha Prasad Adhikari before flying to Paris, where the FATF plenary and working group is meeting on February 18-22.
According to a press release issued by the Office of the President today, the head of the state approved the ordinance under Article 88 (1) of the Interim Constitution taking into account national interest and commitments expressed by Nepal to the international community.
"Though Nepal has escaped being blacklisted for the time being, the country has to continue to prepare instruments to fight the flow of dirty money," he added.
The country has to report again at the 16th APG annual meeting and annual forum on Technical Assistance and Training that is scheduled to be held in Shanghai, China, on July 15 -19. The meeting will discuss the structure and operation of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG), — a regional member of FATF — mutual evaluation procedures, and the scheduling of on-site visits to APG members, implementation issues and their relevance to FATF's International Cooperation Review Group, technical assistance and training issues both for specific APG members and for wider policy-related matters, emerging and evolving money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing typologies and special issues of significance to individual APG members and to the whole membership.
"By June, Nepal has to amend the Assets Laundry Prevention Act (ALPA) for the third time — as the second amendment was not able to include updated provisions — apart from bringing Proceeds Act that will help seized properties manage and give enough teeth to fight against organised crime, he said, adding that it will also streamline all others seizures and management of confiscated assets procedures in various Acts. "Both are in the pipeline."The third important task for Nepal is to automate the Financial Information Unit (FIU). "Though it is also in the process, the software procurement process for the FIU — that will connect all FIUs of other FATF member countries and territories — has taken a long time due to technical reasons," Adhikari added. "Now we have finalised UNODC's software and are in the process of procuring it."