Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar informed the Senate on Friday that the incumbent government has taken various steps for the elimination of the Hawala or Hundi system for having transparent financial transactions in the country.
While speaking in the parliament, the minister said that the government was taking the matter of money-laundering seriously. He also asked the opposition to stop taking a defensive position on the matter.
In a written reply to a question asked in the parliament, the minister said that measures against such financial transactions have been taken through amendments in Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) 1947, in February 2020.
Some of the measures taken under these amendments include increasing the previous imprisonment sentence of two years to the imprisonment of five years.
Other measures taken towards this goal include removing the requirement of written complaints from State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), for tribunals to take cognizance of offenses, for unauthorized and illegal foreign exchange operators like hundi and hawala operators while the time to conclude trial has been fixed for tribunal like session court is now bound to decide the case within six months, the minister informed.
He said that these FERA amendments on operations against hundi have enabled Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to expedite identification and registration of hawala and hundi cases as well as the process of conducting raids, seizing relevant evidence, and arresting the offenders.
He said that in July 2020, the existing memorandum of understaning (MOU) between Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and SBP for the mutual operation was revised aimed at establishing a more robust mechanism in the form of a core coordination committee to further enhance the on-going cooperation between both the agencies for the identification, registration and investigation of cases against hawala and hundi.
He also informed that the FIA and SBP, in close collaboration launched a robust public awareness campaign across the country with a view to discourage the public from using hawala or hundi to encourage the public to identify and report illegal hawala or hundi cases to FIA and also to deter hawala or hundi operators from continuing their activities.
He said that Pakistan introduced its first standalone Anti-Money Laundering law in September 2007 through the promulgation of Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance, 2007 (AMLO) followed by Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance-2009 and Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010.