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LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar visited the Federal Investigation Agency’s Lahore headquarter on Thursday and reviewed in detail progress made on money laundering cases, including those registered against the Sharif family, to meet the targets assigned by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Sources said that all the directors and additional directors of both Punjab Zone-I and Zone-II of the FIA gave a detailed briefing to the premier’s adviser about the agency’s efforts to put the money laundering cases to their logical ends. The sources said that Akbar was also informed about the pace of anti-money laundering investigations against high-profile personalities, including the Sharif family.

According to a source, the SAPM stressed the need for achieving the targets assigned by the FATF for the upcoming Asia-Pacific Group’s (APG) plenary review in March. He also conducted a need assessment of field officers in terms of enhancing their capacity and effectiveness of the agency.

The source said it was decided in the meeting that the FIA with the assistance of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and financial monitoring units (FMUs) would jointly set up joint working groups for improving the quality of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) for efficiency in anti-money laundering investigations.

It may be mentioned that Mirza Shahzad Akbar while addressing a press conference in December last year in Lahore had admitted that the FIA lacks professional prosecutors who could investigate and plead high-profile cases, especially related to money laundering, before courts. To tackle the situation, he had said that a summary had been moved to the federal cabinet for appointment of seasoned lawyers on contractual basis so that the high-profile corruption and anti-money laundering cases could be put to their logical conclusions.

The SAPM had also suggested that the Pakistan’s technical committee attending the next FATF meeting should raise concern that a convict (former premier Nawaz Sharif) is residing in the UK and needs to be extradited as per the Pakistan government’s request.

“Nawaz Sharif neither has UK citizenship nor a valid passport which has already expired during his stay in London, where he had actually gone to get medical treatment,” the PM’s aide had questioned and added that the ruling PTI was actively pursuing Nawaz’s case in the UK.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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