Govt to expedite the process of parliamentary endorsement of AML related bills

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Govt to expedite the process of parliamentary endorsement of AML related bills

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With the risk of Nepal finding a place on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the government has decided to expedite the endorsement of amendment bills related to anti-money laundering (AML).

Nepal is currently under pressure from FAFT and international lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to enact a number of laws to address the deficiencies to comply with the standards on AML and anti-terrorist financing.

On Tuesday, a meeting of the National Review Council on Money Laundering decided to introduce the amendment bill through a fast-track process. According to the Finance Ministry press statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel said that the government planned to take the draft of the bill to the cabinet by Sunday and present the bill at the parliament in a fast-track manner.

According to a government secretary, preparations are underway to prepare the draft of the bill to send the draft to the cabinet by Sunday. Though the amendment bill was presented at the erstwhile parliament, it was dissolved before it was endorsed. Later, the government sent an ordinance the President Bidya Devi Bhandari in November last year. But the President didn’t authenticate the ordinance on time, and following the elections of the House of Representatives, the ordinance could not be introduced.

The government’s decision has come up at a time when the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has been conducting a mutual evaluation of Nepal’s compliance with the global standards on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT). Though the APG team concluded the field visit to Nepal in December last year based on which its report will be prepared, Nepali officials believe Nepal could give accommodate the progress made after their visits to Nepal before APG plenary meeting scheduled to be held in April.

A government secretary said that the new bill would also include the amendment to the existing laws on casinos and cooperatives. Earlier, the ordinance submitted to the president had missed the provisions related to casinos.

In February, the APG is expected to produce its preliminary report on which Nepal will give its opinion. A face-to-face interaction is expected in April before the APG prepares its final report, according to officials at Finance Ministry.

The report will then go to the APG plenary, which will determine whether Nepal will be under the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) monitoring of the FATF.

The ‘grey list’ is used to denote a group of countries/jurisdictions with “strategic deficiencies” in their regime to counter money laundering and terror financing. Once listed as ‘jurisdiction under increased monitoring’ by the FATF, they must develop an action plan within a specific period.

A country on the grey list is not subject to sanctions. However, the grey list signals to the international banking system that there could be enhanced transactional risks from doing business with the said country.

Nepal was on the FAFT’s ‘grey list’ from 2008-2014. After a series of progress made on the AML/CFT regime that includes an amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2008, and the enactment of other laws, the FATF finally removed Nepal from the list in 2014.


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