Money-laundering law can’t be approved in days: MPs

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Wolesi Jirga on Wednesday said it could not approve within days a draft anti-money laundering law and called for summoning the officials who delayed sending the measure to the assembly.
Last week, the Ministry of Justice presented before the lower house two draft laws aimed at preventing money laundering and terrorist financing.
Some Western countries have told Afghanistan its banks would be put on an international blacklist if it did not pass the anti-money laundering law.
Chinese banks have already halted dollar transactions with most Afghan banks without warning, making it difficult for businesses to pay for imports, according to the central bank chief, Noorullah Dilawari.
Acting Justice Minister Mohammad Yusuf Halim and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Humayun Azizi jointly tabled the draft laws in the lower house on Saturday.
Halim had urged lawmakers to pass the anti-money laundering law as soon as possible to show the international community that Afghanistan was committed to honouring its pledges.
FATF, an international body that sets standards on how countries combat money laundering, is due to decide at its meeting on June 22 on whether to blacklist Afghanistan.
The task force has previously told Afghanistan to pass laws meeting global standards against money laundering and terrorist financing or face the blacklist.
But in today’s session, some lower house members said the government had been dragging its feet on the anti-money laundering law for three years.
Taking part in the debate, a lawmaker from central Panjsher province, Zaheer Sadat, said the government should have brought the anti-money laundering law to the parliament years ago.
“Now that Afghanistan is nearing the deadline, the government wants to shift its responsibility to parliament. The government wants us to approve the lengthy law in less than a month,” the lawmaker said.
He said it was necessary to approve the law after detailed deliberations and they should not endorse it in haste given the law’s importance.
“It is not important that we should approve this law in the current form; we should approve a law that is acceptable to the international community,” said Sadat, who demanded prosecution of government officials, who delayed sending the draft to parliament.
However, Mohammad Hassan Sharifi, a legislator from northern Sari Pul province, said the parliament had not been effectively overseeing government’s activities, a reason he cited for the delay in dispatching the law to the assembly.
The lawmaker stressed the officials concerned should be seriously grilled over the prolonged delay.
Central Bank Chief Dilawari had warned if the anti-money laundering law was not approved within days, Afghanistan could be blacklisted.
He said Chinese banks halted dollar transactions with Afghan banks due to the non-approval of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi called the two laws as important, saying the house administrative board alone could not mount pressure on the government to send the drafts to the assembly for approval.
Had the Wolesi Jirga put pressure on the government months ago, the laws would have been approved, he said, asking lawmakers to take a decision on summoning the officials who had delayed sending the draft laws to parliament.
The speaker said the assembly would take forward its affairs to approve the laws under its internal procedures.
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