Burma’s Parliament has prioritised passage of two bills — the Anti-Money Laundering Bill and the Anti-Terrorism Bill – in the lead-up to a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann.
If passed, the Anti-Money Laundering Bill will activate a government task force assigned to reduce illicit finance schemes. The Anti-Terrorism Bill is meant to combat the funding of terrorists.
Ye Htun, lower house representative, told DVB the speaker pledged on Wednesday to promptly discuss the legislation and try to enact it in time for the FATF Plenary and Working Group meetings set for mid-February in Paris.
“The Parliament’s speaker pledged to try to get the bills passed within the first week of February, and if not, as soon as possible,” said Ye Htun.
“[Speaker Shwe Mann] told the representatives that lacking these laws has been an embarrassment for Burma among the international community.”
Thein Tun Oo, another lower house member, said that an anti-money laundering task force has already been formed and is standing by for the bill’s passage.
“We have already formed a task force and it will begin working with international organisations once the law comes into effect. We are working to pass the bill soon,” he said, “as the international community has also been looking forward to this.”
Burma’s President Thein Sein early this week urged Parliament to enact both bills before the FATF meeting.
Upon submission of the Anti-terrorism Bill, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Brig-Gen Kyaw Kyaw Htun stressed that if Burma does not demonstrate adequate legal changes before the meeting, the country may be liable to additional sanctions.
The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation which develops policies for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). The group maintains a blacklist identifying countries with “deficiencies that pose a risk to the international financial system.”
As of October 2013, Burma was listed by FATF as one of 12 “Jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that have not made sufficient progress”.