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Anti-Money Laundering in Pakistan

Below notes written by Syed Tauqeer Bukhari (Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan)

Designated non-financial businesses and professions [DNFBPs]

The following are the DNFBPs

Responsibilities of Real Estate agents under AMLA:

The real estate agents who carry out monetary transactions for their clients, managing, operating, buying and selling of real estate and preparing documents, managing of client money, securities or other assets, managing banks etc and providing real estate services fall under the ambit of designated non-financial business and professions are legally bound to file suspicious transaction reports, If.

Responsibilities of Accountants and other Professionals under AMLA:

The accountants, lawyers, and other professionals who are rendering services to their clients for incorporation of company, firm or trust, audit of books of accounts as an auditor, prepares financial accounts and carry out monetary transactions or services for their client, are legally bound to file suspicious transaction reports if

Investigating or prosecuting agencies under AMLA:

Under Anti Money Laundering Act, 2010 (AMLA) following investigating or prosecuting agencies are designated to conduct investigation of a Money Laundering offence:

Regulatory authorities under AMLA:

The following SRBs are AML/CFT regulatory authorities

Punishment for money laundering:

Whoever commits the offence of money laundering shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but may extend up to ten years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to twenty-five million rupees and shall also be liable to forfeiture of property involved in money laundering or property of corresponding value. The fine may extend up to one hundred million rupees in case of a legal person (Company/Form/trust etc). Any director, officer or employee of such legal person who is also found guilty under this section shall also be punishable with same punishment.

Liability for failure to file STR and for providing false information:

Whoever willfully fails to comply with the STR requirement or give false information shall be liable for imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to five hundred thousand rupees or both. In the case of the conviction of a reporting entity, the concerned AML/CFT regulatory authority may also revoke its license or registration or take such other administrative action as it may deem appropriate.

Attachment of Property:

The attachment of property means prohibition of transfer, conversion, disposition of property by an order issued under section 8 of the AMLA.

Under the provision of section 8 of the AMLA, an investigating officer (IO) is empowered to provisionally attach a property. A property can be provisionally attached when the IO reasonably believes the property to be involved in money laundering. An IO can do this based on reports from the concerned investigating or prosecuting agency, by order in writing and with prior permission of the Court which should not be exceeding one hundred and eighty days from the date of the order. The courts can further grant extension up to 180 days.


The opportunity of hearing is vested right of every accused under the provision of Section 9 of the AML Act. As part of the investigation, a show-cause notice may be issued to the accused, calling upon them to explain sources of income, earning or assets through which property has been acquired. After that, the court can pass an order confirming the attachment, retention, seizure or release of the property.

When the provisional order of attachment has been confirmed the IO shall forthwith take possession of the attached property. The attachment or retention or seizure of the property will continue while investigations are being conducted.

The IO is further required by the court to submit monthly reports of the progress made in the investigation where property has been provisionally attached. Additionally, in every stage of the investigation, the IO is required to submit a report of proceedings to the relevant head of departments within 48 hours of any action.

IO is legally bound to follow the provisions of CrPC 1898. Additionally, there are certain provisions under the AMLA that specifically pertain to investigation procedures.

Power of Survey:

This section empowers the IO to enter any place within the limits of his jurisdiction and authorization. He may conduct inspections, check or verify any transactions pertaining to proceeds of crime, or to gather any information which may be useful for the investigation. During the survey, the IO can place marks of identification on the records inspected by him, make inventory of the property in question or record any statement from any person present that may be useful for the investigation. The IO is then required to forward a copy of the report based on the survey to the head of the concerned investigating or prosecuting agency.

Punishment for vexatious survey and search:

The investigating officer, if without prior permission from the Court, searches, detains, arrests any person or surveys any building or place; shall be liable on conviction for imprisonment or fine or both.

Search and Seizure:

This section lays out the powers of search and seizure afforded to the IO subject to the prior permission of the Court. An IO can conduct, search and seizure if there is a reason to believe that the accused has conducted any money laundering or related activity, is in possession of such property or has any records or documents that will be useful in the investigations. The IO or an authorized subordinate can enter and search any building, place, vessel, vehicle or aircraft, where he has reason to suspect that such record or properties are kept and seize any such record or property found as a result of the search. The IO is then required to forward a copy of the report based on the survey to the head of the concerned investigating or prosecuting agency within 48 hours. The investigating officer, on the basis of information obtained during survey under section 13, is satisfied that any evidence shall be or is likely to be concealed or tampered, he may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, enter and search the building or place where such evidence is located and seize that evidence.

Search of Persons:

Under this section, an IO is empowered to search any person whom the IO believes has concealed anything pertaining to matters that can be useful to the investigation. According to this section, the IO may search that person and seize such record or property which may be relevant to any money laundering proceedings. The IO will further record the statement of the person searched in respect of the records or property involved in money laundering. The IO is then required to forward a copy of the report based on the survey to the head of the concerned investigating or prosecuting agency within 48 hours.


The Sessions Court within its territorial jurisdiction, exercise the jurisdiction to try and adjudicate the offences punishable under this Act. The learned Special Judge (Customs, Taxation and Anti-Smuggling) has exclusive jurisdiction to try the offences of the “AMLA” i.e. predicate offences (scheduled offences of the AMLA), relating to tax evasion, all matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The CNS Court, Anti-Terrorism Court and NAB Courts have the exclusive jurisdiction to try the cases of AML while seized with the predicate offence(s) i.e registered under the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Appointment of investigating officers and their powers:

The investigating or prosecuting agencies may nominate such persons as they deem fit to be the investigating officers under this Act from amongst their officers. The Federal Government may, by special or general order, empower an officer not below BPS-18 of the Federal Government or of a Provincial Government to act as an investigating officer under this Act and the Federal Government shall also determine the terms and conditions of his appointment.

Syed Tauqeer Bukhari

Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

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