KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has exempted non-resident Pakistanis (NRPs) from biometric verification and has allowed them to continue operating bank accounts in the country as the verification is aimed at unearthing fake accounts to combat money laundering and terror financing.
For such customers, “as an alternative to biometric verification”, banks and development finance institutions (DFIs) may conduct fresh NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) Verisys by using the information to be provided by the customer, the central bank said in a notification issued to remove hurdles in the way of NRPs using bank accounts in Pakistan.
The central bank issued the fresh directives to banks and DFIs after some of the NRPs complained of blocking of their bank accounts.
The last date for the biometric verification for all types of bank and DFI customers is June 30, 2019. Foolproof measures to combat money laundering and terror financing are a must to avoid the blacklisting of Pakistan by Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“For customers who fall under the definition of NRP, the bank/DFI may obtain a signed undertaking from the customer invariably containing…customer’s NRP status along with proof ie copy of valid passport, visa, exit stamp, resident permit, etc,” the SBP said in the notification.
Other documents the NRPs are asked to submit as proof include copy of valid identity documents ie computerised national identity card (CNIC) and/or national identity card for overseas Pakistanis (NICOP), account number(s) of the customer’s account(s) maintained with the bank as per customer record, and undertaking by the customer to inform the bank of any change in residency status, it said.
“The bank/ DFI, after verification of the customer’s signature from its record, shall accordingly update/reflect the NRP status in the customer profile,” the notification said.
“In the absence of biometric verification, the bank/DFI may ensure that requisite identification document has been obtained, marked as ‘original seen’ by their staff and verified through NADRA Verisys. Moreover, an undertaking should be obtained from the customer declaring that the particulars provided to the bank/ DFI are correct and their staff has verified the same. The declaration should be endorsed by the branch manager and should be available in the bank’s centralised record,” it said.
Residents temporarily outside Pakistan
For customers who do not come under the definition of NRP, but are currently or temporarily outside Pakistan for any reason, the bank/DFI may obtain reasonable evidence and proof from the customer regarding his or her absence from the country (ie copy of valid passport, visa, exit stamp, resident permit, etc) and the expected date of return.
For such customers, as an alternative to biometric verification, the bank/DFI may conduct fresh NADRA Verisys by using the information provided by the customer.
“The bank/DFI may retain the NADRA Verisys in place of biometric verification until the customer returns, subject to reasonable time limit (not more than six months) to be defined by banks/DFIs,” the SBP said.
“Biometric verification of such customers shall be done immediately upon the customer’s return to the country.”
For joint account holders, the central bank said, the biometric verification should be done according to the status of respective individuals.
“Biometric verification should be conducted for the joint account holder who is resident Pakistani, while for other joint account holders, the relevant procedure described (for NRPs and residents temporarily outside Pakistan) should be adopted,” it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2019.