Govt to review money laundering ECL list on case-by-case basis

Published: January 2, 2019
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Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI

Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI

The federal cabinet on Wednesday decided that names of money laundering suspects would be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) after reviewing JIT recommendations on a case-by-case basis.

During the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, it was also decided to not immediately remove the names from the no-fly list.

The cabinet meeting had been called in light of the Supreme Court’s order to review the decision of placement of 172 people including Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on the no-fly list.

PPP demands PM Imran’s name on ECL

The SC had taken strong exception to putting the individuals’ names – particularly that of Sindh chief minister and other eminent politicians – on the ECL and warned that no one will be allowed to derail democracy which is the main component of the Constitution.

“The Supreme Court will strike down the governor rule [in Sindh] within seconds, if it will be promulgated against the Constitution,” said the CJP.

He had also expressed anger over the federal ministers’ statements about the JIT report. The bench warned the government to refrain from commenting on the ongoing proceedings in this case.

SC gives JIT till Dec 19 to submit final report in fake accounts case

The JIT report in a nutshell

According to the report, the JIT identified 11,500 bank accounts and 924 account holders at the start of their investigation.

Its experts generated 59 Suspected Transaction Reports (STR) and 24,500 Cash Transaction Reports. That means the transactions were flagged as suspicious.

Due to the high quantum of transactions, the JIT decided on a threshold of Rs10million “to track, follow and minutely investigate the flow of funds beyond the immediate counterparties and determine the source of funds and ultimate beneficiaries.”

It questioned 767 individuals, including Zardari and Talpur, while Bilawal submitted written responses.

It has since had the names of 147 individuals placed on the Provisional National Identification List, which would allow authorities to identify if those individuals try to enter or exit the country through an airport. After the report was submitted to the SC, the names of 172 individuals have been placed on the no-fly list by the interior ministry on the JIT’s request.

Fake accounts case: Bilawal, Zardari placed on ECL

The investigations have focused on 32 accounts of 11 fake entities. The first account, belonging to M/S Lucky Enterprises, opened in January 2010 and remained active till January 2017. It was used for 13,809 transactions.

The investigation uncovered that the 11 sole proprietorship entities were registered in the names of low-level employees of the Omni Group, as well as random individuals including a deceased person. All the accounts were operated by Omni Group executives.

A thorough review of the JIT report shows that representatives of State Bank and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) played a vital role in the investigation and preparation of the final report and recommendations.

Read the full text of the JIT report here.

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