Broader awareness of stakeholders, esp non-bank professional bodies, can help develop anti-money laundering regime: Dr. Waqar Masood

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 22 (APP):Former Finance Secretary, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, Wednesday underlined the need for creating broader awareness among all stakeholders, especially the non-bank professional bodies such as lawyers, accountants and real estate developers, regarding the obligations imposed on them by the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing for Terrorism (AML-CFT regime)

Talking to APP here he said such measures can yield positive results if all concerned quarters are taken into confidence and fulfill their professional obligations accordingly. Responding to a query he said the upcoming biometric verification requirement for bank accounts will soon ensure that fake accounts would be eliminated and use of financial system for money laundering and terrorist financing would become difficult.

Paying tributes to President Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Muhammad Aurangzeb for sponsoring 1st international conference and workshops on the FATF-APG agenda of Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing for Terrorism in Karachi last week under the aegis of TNI Consultants and Khan & Amp; Ali Associates, he said such events and endeavors would help create conducive environment to check such practices.

He said the event attracted enthusiastic participation of 200 delegates, mostly commercial bankers, DFIs, insurance executives, accountants and real estate developers. Governor, State Bank, Tariq Bajwa inaugurated the conference besides participating inthe CEOs’ Breakfast, hosted by Muhammad Aurangzeb, President HBL.

In his remarks at the breakfast Aurangzeb said that “HBL sees itself at the forefront of supporting all efforts targeted towards enhancing the capability and capacity of the banking system in Pakistan.
This conference is one such important initiative as it creates a forum for exchange of views on this key topic of AML and CFT regime through building a public-private partnership”.

In a video message to the conference, the Finance Minister, Asad Umar pointed out that AML-CFT have to be the primary concerns of the country as these menaces are undermining the real potential and prosperity of Pakistan.
He said he was pleased to note that the first international conference on the subject was organized with public-private cooperation and remarked that the government would keenly await the recommendations of the experts which would be given full consideration by the Government.

In his inaugural address to the conference, Governor Tariq Bajwa said,” It is heartening to note that an International Conference on Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) is being organized at a time when understanding the dual challenges of APG’s Mutual Evaluation and FATF’s Action Plan are critically important to appreciate efforts made in this direction by Pakistan.

One of the actions under this plan required that Pakistan should increase outreach, on an ongoing basis, where financial institutions promote a clear understanding of their AML and CFT obligations and risks.

This conference is a good example of the kind of public private partnership that needs to be encouraged to develop timely and effective solutions to the challenges in the fields of combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

State Bank of Pakistan, he said always supports such initiatives and considers that these efforts will facilitate in the capacity building of the financial sector, broadening the application of regulatory regime and enabling concerned entities for compliance.  As a result, these will help the country effectively achieving its goal of eliminating the menace of money laundering and terrorist financing”.

The inaugural session was also addressed by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Advisor to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, former finance minister and Governor SBP and Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, former finance secretary.

Dr. Ishrat shared the leadership perspective eradicating the menace of corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing. He said that skill-set, especially the mindset development, is required to enable the country to work together with the international stakeholders to achieve the
goals of building a national AML-CFT regime that is fully compliant with FATF framework.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar remarked that these goals are good for the financial system, stability,economic and people development. She also noted that “a great deal of political considerations has
crept into the working of the international forums but these should not distract us from pursuing the
larger goal of making Pakistan’s regime fully compliant with international best practices.”

Tom Hansen, the key international expert having worked for World Bank, IMF and UN agencies with numerous jurisdictions to develop their AML-CFT regimes, gave a resume of various building
blocks that comprise the AML-CFT regime.

He said that only a highly coordinated and cooperative approach among the key institutions responsible to enforce AML-CFT regime would produce efficient results. It is essential that the information flowing from financial monitoring unit (FMU) through suspicious transaction reports
(STRs) is diligently pursued through various stages of inquiry, investigations and prosecution by concerned agencies to deter the abusers from using the financial system.

The conference held four break-out sessions on the subjects of correspondent banking and AML-CFT risk mitigation, tackling cyber-crime using reg-tech, AI and financial technology,
trade-based money laundering and associated risks and cross-border and illicit flows. Officials, past and present, from all concerned government departments, most notably, SBP, NACTA. FMU, FIA, FBR, Ministry of Finance and Foreign Office attended the conference and served as panelists in the break-out sessions.
The Conference was followed by intensive workshops on various themes related to AML-CFT. They were aimed at bringing the participants at par with the requirements of ensuring full compliance with AML-CFT regime.