Fri, 02 May 2003

House vows quick deliberation of new money-laundering law

Dadan Wijaksana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK) has obtained crucial support from House of Representative leaders to urgently amend the money laundering law, according to its chairman Yunus Husein.

Although the drafting of the amendment is still underway, Yunus said after a meeting with the top lawmakers that their support was needed to avoid delays in the deliberation process.

"They have agreed to put it on their priority list when the President submits the (amendment) draft," Yunus said on Thursday.

The meeting was held at the request of PPATK, a body in charge of analyzing and investigating questionable financial transactions, which has asked for a revision of the existing money laundering law. Representing the House in the meeting were deputy speaker Tosari Widjaja, and Max Moein, chairman of House Commission IX for financial affairs which will be in charge in the deliberation.

The revision is needed if the country wants to be removed from a list of states billed as noncooperative in the global fight against money laundering and avoid sanctions from developed nations.

Failure to do so would mean the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international grouping of anti-money laundering bodies, may employ measures that would adversely affect the domestic banking industry, Yunus explained.

Measures include; a warning for multinational corporations to stay away from doing business in the blacklisted country; and forcing overseas banks to collect detailed data before conducting transactions with individuals or firms in the country.

Yunus expected that the House could endorse the revision on the law before October.

FATF, which works under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is scheduled to convene in June and October, to review which countries can be excluded from the black list.

"I think, with the commitment showed by the House today, we can make it before October so that we can be lifted from the list in October," he added.

Indonesia is included in FATF's list despite having enacted the money laundering law last year as the FATF has demanded that some clauses be revised as they are deemed as uncommon by international standards.

There are at least three clauses that need to be revised and are included in the proposed revision. First, banks must report suspicious transactions within three days, as compared to 14 days under the existing law.

The second is the categorization of suspicious transactions. The proposed draft would revoke an existing clause requiring banks or financial institutions to report to the authorities if they find suspicious transactions to the value of Rp 500 million or more. Under the revision, all dubious transactions must be reported.

Thirdly, there would also be a clause banning banks or other financial institutions from passing on information about the reported transactions to other parties, attached with fines and sanctions for those who violates that.

Money laundering is defined as the practice of converting money generated from corruption, bribery, smuggling, banking- related crimes, drug-related crimes, human-trafficking, gambling and terrorism into legal investments.