Pindaan Pengubahan Wang Haram Patut Ketatkan Pemantauan terhadap “Orang Berpengaruh Politik”

Melangkah ke tahun 2014 yang baharu, rakyat Malaysia telah menyaksikan siri operasi anti-rasuah dan pengubahan wang haram yang dijalankan oleh Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM). Dalam kemelut mencari rezeki bagi membiayai peningkatan kos kehidupan ekoran “janji dibelakangi”, usaha SPRM seakan-akan memberi sedikit harapan dalam kekecewaan bah sececah cahaya dalam kegelapan, di mana sesetengah pihak dibiar menjana kekayaan daripada perbuatan haram sedangkan rakyat jelata terpaksa bertungku lumus demi kehidupan yang lebih selesa.

Pada 26 Disember 2012, SPRM mengesahkan bahawa seorang pegawai kanan polis bergelar “datuk” telah dipanggil untuk memberi kenyataan berkaitan kes pengubahan wang haram bernilai RM6 juta. Mengejutkan sekali, pegawai kanan itu hanya salah seorang daripada kira-kira 60 anggota polis yang sedang disiasat akibat disyaki mengutip rasuah daripada pengendali perniagaan haram di ibu kota.[1]  Setakat ini, tiada tangkapan dibuat dan kes ini masih dalam siasatan. Pada 7 Januari 2014, dua orang diplomat bertugas di Kedutaan Malaysia di Washington, Amerika Syarikat turut disiasat oleh SPRM di bawah Akta Pencegahan Pengubahan Wang Haram dan Pencegahan Pembiayaan Keganasan 2001 kerana disyaki membuat tuntutan perjalanan dan logistik yang palsu berjumlah AS AS$126,000 (RM378,000) bagi perbelanjaan mereka di Sidang Kemuncak APEC di Hawaii pada tahun 2011. [2]

Badan pemikir Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) menyambut baik daya upaya SPRM dalam operasinya untuk menangani gelaja rasuah, terutamanya melalui taktik kotor seperti pengubahan wang. Walau bagaimanapun, KPRU mengambil perhatian bahawa kesungguhan SPRM tidak berbuah sepenuhnya kerana bidang kuasa yang terhad, di mana SPRM hanya berkuasa untuk menyiasat tetapi tidak merangkumi pendakwaan.

Tumpuan pindaan RUU Pencegahan Pengubahan Wang Haram

Dalam hal ini, perhatian harus dialihkan terhadap undang-undang yang sedia ada dalam menangani kegiatan pengubahan wang haram. Akta Pencegahan Pengubahan Wang Haram dan Pencegahan Pembiayaan Keganasan 2001, atau dikenali sebagi Akta 613, dikuatkuasakan sejak 15 Januari 2002 sebagai usaha untuk mengadakan peruntukan bagi kesalahan pengubahan wang haram, langkah-langkah bagi mencegah pengubahan wang haram dan kesalahan membiayai keganasan, serta mengadakan peruntukan bagi pelucuthakan harta pengganas dan harta yang berkait dengan kesalahan pengubahan wang haram atau membiayai keganasan.[3]

Pada 4 Disember 2013, Rang Undang-Undang (RUU) Pencegahan Pengubahan Wang Haram dan Pencegahan Pembiayaan Keganasan (Pindaan) 2013 telah dibawa ke Dewan Rakyat untuk bacaan kali yang pertama dan ia bakal dibahaskan dalam mesyuarat pertama, penggal kedua Parlimen ketiga-belas pada bulan Mac yang akan datang. Sebelum ini, Bank Negara sememangnya telah menyatakan hasrat pada Persidangan Jenayah Kewangan dan Pembiayaan Keganasan Antarabangsa Kelima 2013, bertema ‘Risiko, Tadbir Urus & Kawal Selia Kendiri Di Dalam dan Luar Negara’ untuk meminda akta tersebut sebagai usaha memperkukuh lagi sistem kewangan.[4]

Menurut Penolong Gabenor BNM, Encik Abu Hassan Alshari Yahaya dalam ucapannya dalam persidangan tersebut, BNM telah mengemukakan dasar-dasar bagi menyemak semula Akta 613 pada September 2013. Komponen penting dalam dasar Akta 613 yang dikaji semula adalah pengenalan suatu kewajipan bagi institusi pelapor untuk menerima pakai pendekatan yang berasaskan risiko dalam hal mengenal pasti, menilai, dan memahami risiko yang dihadapi oleh institusi pelapor dalam kes pengubahan wang haram dan pembiayaan keganasan. Penilaian dan kefahaman mengenai risiko berkenaan membolehkan institusi-institusi pelapor masing-masing menyesuaikan diri dalam hal mengawal risiko, di samping mengadakan dasar dan prosedur bagi mengurangkan risiko yang bakal dihadapi. Selain itu, Penolong Gabenor menyatakan bahawa dasar baru yang dikemukakan turut memberi tumpuan kepada penapisan pelanggan yang dikenali sebagai “usaha wajar pelanggan” (Customer Due Diligence, CDD) untuk mencerminkan tahap risiko yang berlainan. Dasar baru tersebut juga bertujuan menangani isu-isu pelaksanaan yang dihadapi oleh institusi pelapor dan pihak penyelia, serta merangkumi piawaian Pasukan Petugas Tindakan Kewangan (FATF).[5]

Sesungguhnya, RUU baharu yang dibawa ke Parlimen tersebut telah memperlihatkan penggantian seksyen 14 iaitu “Laporan oleh institusi pelapor” dan seksyen 16 iaitu “Usaha wajar pelanggan”, yang masing-masing menyatakan obligasi atau kewajipan institusi pelapor membuat laporan tentang transaksi yang mencurigakan dan tidak dibenarkan untuk membuka atau mengendalikan mana-mana akaun yang mencurigakan. Secara keseluruhannya, ia juga memperlihatkan penguatkuasaan yang lebih ketat dan hukuman yang lebih berat yang bakal dikenakan terhadap mana-mana pihak yang terlibat dalam aktiviti-aktiviti haram, khususnya pengubahan wang haram dan aktiviti keganasan, antaranya termasuklah memanjangkan tempoh pemenjaraan dan menambah dendaan.

 

“Orang Berpengaruh Politik” harus diberi perhatian ketat

Namun demikian, pengamatan KPRU mendapati Akta 613 terlepas perhatiannya terhadap sesetengah golongan yang diambil kira sebagai “sasaran berisiko tinggi”, khususnya “orang berpengaruh politik” (politically exposed person, PEP)  iaitu orang yang mempunyai pengaruh atau pendedahan dalam politik seperti seorang perdana menteri dan ahli keluarganya, seorang ketua menteri dan ahli keluarganya, seorang menteri dan ahli keluarganya, dan seumpamanya.  Khususnya dalam konteks Malaysia, barangkali kes pengubahan wang haram bukan sahaja dikaitkan dengan penjenayah tetapi juga tokoh atau bigwig.

Menurut manual pemeriksaan anti-pengubahan wang haram dalam Akta Kerahsiaan Bank (Bank Secrecy Act, BSA) yang dikuatkuasa di Amerika Syarikat, institusi kewangan seperti bank perlu mengambil segala langkah munasabah bagi memastikan pihaknya tidak membantu menyembunyikan atau memindahkan “keuntungan” tokoh-tokoh politik negara asing, atau ahli keluarga mereka, atau sekutu mereka yang dijana daripada rasuah, sama ada tidak disedari atau secara sengaja.[6] Denda berat dikenakan terhadap institusi kewangan yang menjalankan urusniaga dengan PEP tanpa mengikut prosedur usaha wajar pelanggan yang mencukupi. Seperti contoh, Riggs Bank berpangkalan di Washington D.C., Amerika Syarikat telah didenda AS$25 juta pada tahun 2004 akibat kegagalan melaporkan urusniaga yang meragukan di akaunnya di Washington yang dipegang oleh kerajaan Equatorial Guinea dan diplomat Arab Saudi. Di samping itu, Riggs Bank juga pernah disiasat kerana terdapatnya pendedahan yang memperlihatkan usaha bagi menyembunyikan aset bekas diktator Chile, Augusto Pinochet daripada diambil tindakan oleh pendakwa raya apabila Pinochet diberkas di London selepas didakwa di Sepanyol atas tuduhan jenayah kemanusiaan pada tahun 1998. Akaun-akaun Pinochet di Riggs Bank terpaksa ditutup pada tahun 2002 akibat tekanan dari Pejabat Pengawal Mata Wang (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, OCC). [7]

Padahalnya, garis panduan Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) mengenai Akta 613 (perenggan 5.10) turut memperuntukkan usaha wajar pelanggan yang lebih ketat terhadap pelanggan yang berisiko lebih tinggi. Pada tahap minimum, institusi kewangan sebagai salah satu institusi pelapor haruslah mendapatkan maklumat yang lebih terperinci melalui maklumat umum, khususnya tentang tujuan urusniaga dan sumber dana, serta mendapatkan kelulusan daripada pengurus kanan sebelum menjalin hubungan dengan pelanngan. Selain daripada PEP, pelanggan yang dikatakan berisiko lebih tinggi turut termasuklah individu kaya, pelanggan bukan pemastautin, pelanggan dari lokasi yang tinggi kadar jenayahnya, dan pelanggan dari negara yang mana tidak mengenakan undang-undang berkenaan dengan pencegahan pengubahan wang haram yang cukup ketat.[8]

Walau bagaimanapun, Malaysia masih tidak menyaksikan penguatkuasaan yang ketat dalam aspek ini. Maka, institusi-institusi pelapor, sama ada institusi kewangan daripada sektor konvensional, Islam dan luar pesisir, mahupun perniagaan dan profesion bukan kewangan seperti peguam, akauntan, setiausaha syarikat dan juga kasino berlesen tunggal di Malaysia, kadang-kala dijadikan sebagai suatu “lubang” bagi menyembunyikan kekayaan haram, terutamanya kekayaan bigwig seperti PEP. Lebih-lebih lagi, harus senantiasa diingatkan bahawa menteri-menteri berkenaan masih diberi kuasa besar dalam penguatkuasaan undang-undang tersebut, manakan Akta 613 ini dapat dikuatkuasakan tanpa berat sebelah dengan mengambil tindakan terhadap PEP yang terlibat, sekiranya ada?

Lantaran itu, memandangkan pindaan Akta Pencegahan Pengubahan Wang Haram dan Pencegahan Pembiayaan Keganasan (Akta 613) telah memperuntukkan kewajipan pelaporan oleh institusi pelapor dan usaha wajar pelanggan, garis panduan berkenaan yang disediakan oleh Bank Negara Malaysia tentang penilaian pelanggan berisiko, terutamanya, harus dimanfaatkan dengan penguatkuasaan undang-undang. Pemantauan dan penyenggaraan terhadap pelanggan berisiko tinggi seperti yang tersenarai dalam garis panduan Bank Negara Malaysia seharusnya dijalankan dengan kerjasama agensi kerajaan, khususnya SPRM dalam isu pengubahan wang haram dan diberikan keutamaan dalam penyiasatan.

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Anti-Money Laundering Amendments Should Tighten Monitoring of Politically Exposed Persons

 As we are stepping into the brand new year of 2014, the people of Malaysia have witnessed series of anti-corruption and money laundering operation conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

On December 26, 2013, the MACC confirmed that a senior police officer with the title ‘Datuk’ had his statement regarding a RM6 million money-laundering case taken. Shockingly, the senior police officer was merely one amongst some 60 policemen that went under investigation as they were suspected for collecting bribes from operators of illegal business in the capital city.[1] Next, on January 7, 2014, two diplomats attached to the Malaysian Embassy to the United States in Washington are being investigated under the Anti Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 for making fraudulent claims more than two years ago. They are accused of making false travel and logistic claims amounting to US$126,000 (RM378,000) for their expenses at the APEC Summit in Hawaii in 2011.[2]

Think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) welcomes MACC’s seriousness and earnestness in tackling corruption, particularly through the channel of money-laundering. Nonetheless, KPRU notes that the determination of MACC would most likely be less fruitful one as it is not yet given prosecutorial powers.

Highlight of Anti-Money Laundering Amendments

In this regard, attention should be placed on the existing law in dealing with financial crimes with economic effects like money laundering. In Malaysia, Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 has been enforced since January 15, 2002 to curb any money laundering activities through provision of money laundering offences, measures to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing offences, as well as asset forfeiture. [3]

On 4 December 2013, Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing (Amendment) Bill 2013 was brought to Parliament for the first reading. The bill is believed to be debated in the coming Parliament session in March. Prior to this, the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has proposed to amend the Act in order to further strengthening the financial system in Malaysia. [4]

At the 5th International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing (IFCTF 2013) ON October 23, 2013, Assistant Governor of BNM, Abu Hassan Alshari Yahaya said that BNM has issued revised policies on anti-money laundering in September 2013. According to him, the integral component of the revised anti-money laundering policies is the introduction of an obligation for reporting institutions to adopt a risk-based approaching in identifying, assessing, and understanding the money laundering and terrorism financing risks of respective reporting institutions. Proper assessment and understanding of the risks is said to be enabling reporting institutions to tailor an appropriate risk controls and establish proper policies and procedures to mitigate the risks.  Moreover, the revised policies also focused on refining Customer Due Diligence (CDD) requirements to reflect the varied risk levels. The revised policies also aimed to address implementation issues faced by both the reporting institutions and the supervisors as well as to incorporate Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements under the revised standards.[5]

In fact, there is replacement of section 14’s “Report by reporting institutions” and section 16’s “Customer due diligence” in the Bill brought to Parliament, which respectively imposes on a reporting institution an obligation to promptly report to the competent authority any suspicious transaction, and a reporting institution is not allowed to open or maintain any suspicious accounts. Overall, it imposes more stringent enforcement and heavier penalties such as extended sentence of imprisonment against whoever involved in illicit activities, in particular money laundering and terrorist activities.

Keep an eye on Politically Exposed Persons (PEP)

Notwithstanding, KPRU finds that the Anti-Money Laundering Act has somehow overlooked certain groups of people which are deemed to be “higher risk individual”, especially “politically exposed persons” (PEP) like a prime minister and his family members, a chief minister/menteri besar and his family members, a minister and his family members and so on. Above all, by the virtue of their position and they influence that they may hold, a politically exposed persons generally presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption, which are intertwined with money laundering in the Malaysian context.

According to the Anti-Money Laundering Examination Manual of United States’ Bank Secrecy Act, being one of the reporting institutions, bank should take all reasonable steps to ensure that they do not knowingly or unwittingly assist in hiding or moving the proceeds of corruption by senior foreign political figures, their families, and their associates.[6] Heavy fines would be imposed on those reporting institutions for conducting business with politically exposed person without following adequate and enhanced due diligence processes. As an example, Riggs Bank – a Washington, D.C. based commercial bank – was fined US$25 milion in 2004 for failing to report suspicious transactions in Washington held by the government of Equatorial Guinea and by Saudi Arabian diplomats. In addition, Riggs Bank was also investigated as a recent US Senate report has revealed that Riggs executives attempted to help former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet disguise his assets from federal prosecutors when Pinochet’s accounts were ordered frozen by court orders as he was under house arrest in London after being indicted in Spain in 1998 on charges of crimes against humanity. Pinochet’s accounts at Riggs Bank were forced to be closed due to pressure from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in 2002.[7]

In fact, the BNM Standard Guidelines on the Anti-Money Laundering Act (paragraph 5.10) does provide for enhanced due diligence measures for higher risk customers. As a minimum, the enhanced due diligence process involves obtaining more detailed information from the customer through publicly available information, particularly regarding the purpose of transaction and source of funds, and also to obtain approval from the senior management before establishing the business relationship with the customers. Apart from politically exposed persons, the other higher risk customers also comprised of high net worth individuals, non-resident customers, customers from locations known for their high rates of crime, as well as customers from countries or jurisdictions with inadequate anti-money laundering laws and regulations. [8]

Despite of the existing guidelines, Malaysian have yet to see enhanced enforcement on this particular issue. What remains common is that: reporting institutions such as banks and other financial institutions, as well as non-financial businesses and professions consisted of lawyers, accountants, company secretaries and licensed casino are still remained vulnerable to money laundering activities and continued to be exploited to conceal the source of ill-gotten funds, especially the illegitimate wealth of those bigwig like politically exposed person. Crucially, when great power and authority have been bestowed to those ministers in terms of law enforcement, is it possible that the Anti-Money Laundering Act can be enforced justly without fear or favour by taking actions on politically exposed person?

In conclusion, given the amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act has imposed obligation to report on reporting institution and provided customer due diligence, the guidelines by BNM on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing should be taken into serious consideration and to be fully applied and utilized in combating related illegal activities. Law enforcement agencies should really work hand in hand with MACC, essentially by keeping a close eye on bigwig like politically exposed person, as a mean to weed out graft effectively.