Separate law needed to check terrorism financing: DoMLI DG

Kathmandu, November 10

Director General of Department of Money Laundering Investigation Jiwan Prakash Sitaula said that a separate law should be enacted to allow the DoMLI to confiscate properties of foreign nationals who flee Nepal after being indicted in the money laundering cases.

“At present we need to file case in the court to confiscate properties of foreign nationals,” he said. Sitaula said that a separate law was also necessary to check terrorism financing. “Organised crime prevention law is often invoked to punish those indulging in terrorism financing, but the most effective way to do this is to have a separate law that can comprehensively define the issue,” he said and added that the acts of  various outfits, including those of Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal,  needed to be defined as acts of terror. He said Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body,  would review in 2022 Nepal’s compliance of international standards designed to check terrorism financing and money laundering activities and the government needed to do a lot to show the international community that Nepal fully adhered to international measures.

Sitaula said the government also needed to ensure enactment of mutual legal assistance  treaties with other countries, including India and China. “We urgently need to have MLA treaties with our neighbours with whom we do large percentage of our trade,” he added. Sitaula said his office had written letters to some countries, but they had not responded in the expected time frame as Nepal had not signed MLA treaties with those countries.

“Once we have MLAs, with counties, the parties will have an obligation to cooperate in suspected cases of money laundering,” he argued. He also said that other service providing agencies such as banks, insurance companies and land revenue offices also needed to report to the concerned offices about suspected cases of illegal transactions and purchase in order to enable  DMLI to effectively do its job.

Corporate lawyer Senior Advocate Gandhi Pandit said existing anti-money laundering laws were imposed by the international community. He said the existing anti-money laundering law needed to be changed to exempt people ordinary people from being categorised as money launderers just because they were guilty of evading taxes.

“If somebody is found guilty of evading huge taxes, then it will be appropriate to prosecute him/her under anti-money laundering laws, but not in all cases,” he argued.