Tue, 26 Jan 2021

Berlin [Germany], October 22 (ANI): Pakistan should ensure that they have sufficient resources devoted to monitoring the activities of anyone suspected of having been or still being involved in money laundering and terror financing to militant groups, said an anti-money laundering expert.

"All parties interested in putting a stop to global money laundering and terrorism financing would expect Pakistan to ensure they have sufficient resources devoted to monitoring the activities of anyone suspected of having been, or still being involved in any of these activities. This would clearly be true in Khanani's case," Graham Barrow told Germany-based DW.

Barrow remarks came after the recent revelation in FinCEN files, which has revealed that Altaf Khanani, a Pakistani fraudster, and his organisation reportedly moved an estimated $14 billion (EUR11.81 billion) to $16 billion annually for drug cartels and terrorist organisations like al-Qaida, Hezbollah and the Taliban, DWreported.

Commenting on recent revelation in FinCEN files impact on Financial Action Task Force decision on Pakistan, Barrow said "Khanani used a global network of shell companies, which means that it is unlikely that Pakistan will be dragged into it."The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog, is holding its plenary session from October 21 where it will decide the fate of Pakistan. The country is in grey-list since 2018.

Early this month, the FATF's Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering has kept Pakistan on "Enhanced Follow-up List" for its slow progress on the technical recommendations of the FATF to fight terror financing. Pakistan's progress has remained unchanged -- non-compliant on four counts.

The United States officials have long accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups to use them as proxies to destabilise Afghanistan. Islamabad denies these allegations and points to its role as a "facilitator" in the ongoing Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

Khanani was considered one of the world's most-wanted money launderers. He was involved in the illicit international movement of money between countries like Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia. His organisation also moved money for drug cartels and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and al-Qaida.

After a massive hunt involving five nations, Khanani was arrested in Panama in September 2015 by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He was later sent to the US, where a court sentenced him to 68 months in prison.

Khanani was released from prison on July 13, but there isn't much information about his current location.

Despite Islamabad's measures against the notorious money launderer, Khanani can still prove to be damaging for his home country.

"Khanani, the head of the Khanani MLO, and Al Zarooni Exchange have been involved in the movement of funds for the Taliban. Khanani is known to have had relationships with Lashkar-e-Taiba, Dawood Ibrahim, al-Qaida, and Jaish-e-Mohammed," the US Department of the Treasury said in a press statement in November 2015.

Osama Malik, an international economic law expert in Islamabad, told DW: "While the annual figure of $14 to $16 billion laundered by the Khanani network is startling, it was generated between 1999 and 2017. Unless there is something to indicate that Pakistan has shown an unwillingness or inability to deal with such suspicious transactions after being greylisted, FinCEN leaks should not adversely affect Pakistan's chances at FATF.""However, the fact that known companies operated by Khanani, who is a convicted money launderer, held business transactions with reputable financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, should indeed be a serious source of concern for Pakistan, the UAE and Germany," he added. (ANI)

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