The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will take major steps to counter money laundering. The measures include establishment of Customs Border Force (CBF) comprising 3,000 personnel, audit of money exchangers in border towns, installing Global Travellers Assessment System (GTAS) at airports and setting up of National Targeting Centre to issue currency/passengers alerts to law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
Sources told Business Recorder on Monday that the FBR has taken a number of measures to counter money laundering in the country. In this regard, a plan to create the Customs Border Force would be finalised by the end of March 2019. According to sources, the GTAS is expected to be launched at Islamabad and Karachi airports in one month period. Moreover, the government is also planning to establish radio frequency identification (RFID) scanners for baggage which is operational at Islamabad airport.
One of the important anti-money laundering measures is the establishment of National Targeting Centre. In this regard, National Single Window (NSW) programme for enforcement agencies, which identifies trends in the movement of passengers, currency & other contrabands and will also generate alerts for the targeting teams to take preventive measures proactively. The NTC project is expected to be operational by December 2020.
Sources said that Director General of Post Clearance Audit is focal person for coordination with State Bank of Pakistan for audit of money exchangers in border towns. The FBR is also in the process of establishing a central database for feeding information regarding AML. In this connection, the FBR has established money laundering case management database software.
Directorate General of Customs Intelligence and DG Intelligence and Investigation Inland Revenue have taken many measures to counter money laundering. Both the DG (I&I)-Customs and DG (I&I)-IR have been nominated as investigating agencies under AMLA 2010. DG I&I-IR received 335 suspicious transactions reports (STRs) involving 571 cases during the period from May, 2016 to Jan 2019. The action has been initiated in 510 cases and the total amount recovered so far is Rs 6.2 billion.
The DG (I&I) - Customs is one of the five designated LEAs under the AML Act, 2010 to conduct investigation and prosecution of Trade Based Money Laundering and Smuggling. Presently, 6 cases of trade based money laundering are under investigations. In 02 cases (Rs.681 million), the permission to proceed under AMLA has been accorded by the Special Judge Customs under Section 21 of AMLA 2010. Total Foreign Currency seized during the period from November 2018 to January 2019 is Rs 305 million as compared to Rs 61 million in the corresponding period last year. Eleven FIRs were registered and 13 persons were apprehended.
Presently, the Currency Declaration System is operational at 24 entry/ exit points. In year 2018 the system captured 11166 declarations amounting $66.7 million. Pakistan Customs is currently working on recommendation 32 of the International Cooperation Review Group which relates to (cash couriers).