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MPs again fail to pass anti-money laundering law

MPs again fail to pass anti-money laundering law

KABUL: The Wolesi Jirga failed for a second day in a row on Monday to pass the much-delayed anti-money laundering law due to incomplete quorum, raising concerns among some lawmakers.
The Justice Ministry last month presented before the lower house the draft anti-money laundering law in 10 chapters and 70 articles, urging lawmakers to pass the measure as soon as possible in order to save Afghanistan banks from being put an international blacklist.
Justice Ministry officials say if the bill is not approved at the earliest, it could prompt foreign financial institutes to sever relations with Afghan banks.
The lower house panel heads debated the proposed law for three consecutive days last week before it was tabled in the house on Saturday by the finance and budget commission.
Due to the lack of quorum, the assembly could not make a decision on the law on Sunday, when Speaker Abul Rauf Ibrahimi said the house would decide on the bill on Monday.
But today when the law was again presented before the assembly, lawmakers said they could not deliver a decision because the quorum was incomplete. The MPs present waited for two hours to see if the quorum completes, but in vain.
Amir Yar Khan, who heads the finance and budget commission, asked the assembly to ensure the proposed law was approved at the earliest.
He said the international deadline to blacklist Afghanistan banks had been revised thrice and the final deadline would expire in two weeks.
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.
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.
Yar said if the law was not approved within the given time, Afghanistan banks could be put on the blacklist.
“These international organisations say it is acceptable to them if the law is approved only by the national assembly,” said the lawmaker, who called the proposed law in the interest of the people of Afghanistan.
But a lawmaker from northeastern Badakhshan province, Amanullah Paiman, said if the law was passed, it would turn white the black money taken out of the country in the past.
He suggested a provision should be added to the law to blacklist money which had been taken out from Afghanistan over the past few years.
But Amir Khan Yar said the law’s approval would help prevent transferring money abroad without required documentation and no one would be able to take black money out of the country.
He also came hard on the house administrative delegation for failing to complete the quorum in two days.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said he had contacted all absent lawmakers and had told them to appear in the house in order to approve the important bill.
He criticised the government for delaying sending the draft law to the house, giving no enough time to lawmakers to properly debate the measure.
Najibullah Amin, deputy director general of the Office of Administrative Affairs, said the proposed anti-money laundering law had many problems which led to the delays in sending it to the assembly.
He said the law had been discussed by six commissions to remove weaknesses before it was sent to the lower house for approval.

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