State Bank, FIA come together to fight money laundering, cyberattacks

SBP governor meets DG FIA, presidents of various banks
Nov 22, 2021

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Inve­stigation Agency (FIA) have decided to join hands against money laundering, digital frauds and cyberattacks.

The decision comes as Pakistan agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement action plans on Anti money laundering and combating terror finance (AML/CFT) efforts.

The meeting for the agreement between the SBP and FIA was convened on Saturday and was attended by senior officials from both institutions as well as presidents of various banks operating in the country.

The central bank governor Reza Baqir emphasized the need for close cooperation among banks, SBP and FIA to expeditiously investigate white-collar crimes and apprehend and prosecute the fraudsters.

Pakistan has been actively trying to fix its financial monitoring mechanism, especially since the country’s inclusion on the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2018.

On October 21, FATF announced that Pakistan will remain on the grey list.

FATF President Marcus Pleyer said that Pakistan should take steps to address strategic shortcomings and also work on expediting cases against those involved in terror financing and money-laundering.

However, the SBP says it has taken several measures in recent past to strengthen its work on Anti-money Laundering (AML) as well as taken regulatory and supervisory measures to improve banks' controls to prevent digital and social engineering frauds.

“In addition to better controls at the level of Financial Institutions and enhanced customers awareness, effective investigation and prosecution of criminals is needed to substantially reduce incidences of money laundering, digital frauds and cyber-attacks,” the SBP said in a statement released after the meeting.

The SBP said that the FIA team offered support in strengthening cyber security at banks and suggested banks to carry out Information Security (IS) audit of their systems.

Welcoming the suggestion, SBP said that as per existing regulations banks are required to regularly carry out their information system audit and penetration testing, however it would be reemphasized to the industry through Pakistan Banks Association (PBA).

The meeting identified key follow up areas and associated timelines for strengthening cooperation between SBP, FIA, and banks in these areas.

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