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Pakistan expected to pass anti-money laundering law

Written by: Staff
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ISLAMABAD, Nov 22 (Reuters) Pakistan is expected to enact an anti-money laundering law soon, paving the way for ratification of a UN convention to curb militant financing, a UN official said today.

Javier Ruperez, an assistant UN secretary-general and head of a UN counter-terrorism delegation, praised Pakistani efforts and said it had ratified all but one UN convention on tackling terrorism.

''Only one counter-terrorism convention that is pending for signature and ratification, as far as Pakistan is concerned, is prohibition of financing of terrorism,'' Ruperez told a news conference after talks with Pakistani officials.

The ratification of the convention was linked to the passage of an anti-money-laundering law in parliament, he said. The bill has been submitted in parliament but it has been stuck with a parliamentary standing committee for months.

Ruperez said he had been told parliament would pass the bill soon.

''We got reassurances in that respect that soon that bill will be enacted by the parliament,'' he said.

Pakistan's central bank introduced stringent measures to curb money-laundering and bring foreign currency remittances into official banking channels after joining the US-led war on terrorism in 2001.

For generations, money had been transferred through an unofficial system known as hawala, that allows money to be exchanged between traders through a handshake, a piece of paper or on trust.

The new rules are paying off as Pakistan's official remittances have steadily increased over the past few years.

Foreign reserves stood at 12.481 billion dollars in the week ending on November 11, most of it remittances from Pakistanis working abroad.

Pakistan has also seized bank accounts of about 20 Islamist militant groups since 2001.

REUTERS SP KP2059

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