Egypt's parliament approves new amendments to anti-money laundering law

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 8 Mar 2020

MPs said 80 percent of terrorist crimes were funded through money laundering activities

A file photo of Egypt
A file photo of Egypt's Parliament (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's House of Representatives approved on Sunday new amendments to the anti-money laundering law (80/2002).

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the amendments are necessary and aim to dry up the sources of funding for terrorist and organised crime. He explained that the approved amendments will be referred to the State Council to be revised in constitutional and legal terms before they are put up for a final vote.

MP Osama Sharshar said the amendments come at the right time to target terrorist militias, which resort to money laundering activities to commit their crimes.

The majority speaker Abdel-Hadi El-Qasabi said money laundering has become a major source of funding for terrorist activities in recent years.

“These amendments target these crimes and implement Egypt’s commitments in line with the Middle East and North Africa Financial Task Force in this respect,” said El-Qasabi.

Adel Nasser, the parliamentary spokesperson of the Future of a Homeland Party, said the amendments are necessary as 80 percent of terrorist crimes were funded by money laundering operations, said Nasser.

A report prepared by the House's constitutional and legislative affairs committee said amendments to the 16-article law are part of a wider effort to crack down on terrorism funding.

"Amendments to laws on anti-terror and terrorist entities were amended and approved by the House last month in a bid to tighten the grip on terrorism funding, and the amendments to the anti-money laundering law serve this objective and go in line with new developments in the area of terrorist crimes over 18 years," said the report.

"Besides, the amendments come at a time when Egypt's legal framework against money laundering and terrorism financing has become subject to review by the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force," added the report.

Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka, chairperson of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee and leader of the opposition Wafd Party, told MPs that the amendments, approved by the committee on 2 March, generally aim to update the law in terms of widening the scope of the definition of money laundering to include the selling and smuggling of oil, natural resources, securities and cryptocurrency, among other assets. 

"The amendments will also toughen penalties in the form of a seven-year prison sentence and hefty fines will be imposed on those convicted of laundering any of the above assets," said Abu Shoka. 

The report explains that three main articles of the anti-money laundering law will be amended. 

"Article 16 will be amended to give greater powers to the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Funding Unit, with the objective of expediting the necessary measures in this respect, primarily freezing the assets and cash of those suspected of funding terrorist crimes," said the report.

Article 18 will be amended to make it compulsory for local authorities and the anti-money laundering unit to reinforce cooperation and exchange information with international organisations focused on fighting money laundering and the funding of terrorism. 

Article 9 will be amended to require the anti-money laundering unit to publish up-to-date and comprehensive statistics and figures on its activities and operations in tracking the illegal funding of terrorist crimes.

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