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Terrorism financing: National Assembly adopts bill unanimously

The National Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed 'Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2012' for taking effective action against those who finance acts of terrorism and take benefit from the proceeds of such acts along with freeze, seizure and forfeiture of property used in terrorism by terrorists and terrorist organisations.

The Bill was tabled by Law Minister Farooq H Neak in the House. The House passed it unanimously. The government introduced this Bill in the Lower House of the parliament on November 12, 2012. The Bill reflects Pakistan's resolve to constantly reviewing and strengthening its counter terrorism financing regime and to bring it at par with the international standards. It also aims at amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 to strengthen the provisions concerning the offences of terrorism financing and to provide more effective enforcement measures against such offences.

The Bill also addresses the shortcomings relating to terrorist financing provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 that were highlighted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)- an international body comprising a number of countries and international organisations which sets and monitors international standards on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-financing of terrorism (CFT).

According to the Bill, a new clause in the Act 1997 shall be inserted as "money includes coins or notes in any currency, postal orders, money orders, bank credits, bank accounts, letter of credit, travellers cheques, bank cheques, bankers draft in any from, electronic, digital or otherwise and such other kinds of monetary instruments or documents as the Federal Government may by order specify."

Similarly, in section 110 the Act 1997 shall be substituted, namely: - "(1) The Federal government or a provincial government may, from time to time, designate an officer of the government, by notification in the official Gazette, or direct any other person to freeze, seize or detain any money or other property for a period of fifteen days, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that (a) it is a terrorist property; or (b) it is property of a person included in the Fourth Schedule.

(2) The refusal to effect freeze or seizure under this section without just cause shall be an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment of up to five years or fine up to five hundred thousand rupees, or both.

(3) If a legal person commits an offence under sub-section (4), it shall be liable to a fine of up to five million rupees and every director officer or employee of such entity found guilty under sub-section (4) shall be punished in terms thereof.

(4) The officer or person effecting freeze or seizure shall, within forty-eight hours of the freeze or seizure, issue notice thereof to all persons concerned with the money or other property frozen or seized and cause publication of such notice in one English newspaper and one Urdu newspaper having wide circulation in the area.

(5) No prosecution, suit or other proceedings shall lie against the government, or the officer or the person referred to in sub-section (1) for anything done or intended to be done in good faith to effect freeze or seizure under this section.

(6) The provisions of sub-sections (1) to (5) shall mutatis mutandis apply to a request received by the Federal Government from a foreign government to freeze, seize or detain a terrorist property or property of a person included in the Fourth Schedule.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013