A committee in Nepal’s House of Representatives has endorsed an anti-money laundering (AML) bill, in a bid to amend existing law and regulations to make them compatible with international standards, reports the Kathmandu Post.
According to the media outlet, the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday endorsed the bill “with a few changes”.
One such change was the inclusion of a provision to bar setting up new casinos within 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) of the country’s international borders. As per the existing legislation, such distance is currently set at 3 kilometres.
“The move aims to control possible cross-border crime originating from casinos,” said lawmaker Bimala Subedi, chairperson of the committee, as cited by the Kathmandu Post.
The amendment bill has proposed many other amendments to several laws, to address deficiencies in AML and in combatting the financing of terrorism (CFT).
Such amendments, as well as further action from national enforcement agencies, are necessary steps to avoid Nepal being included on the so-called ‘grey list’ of the Paris-based watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to the country’s government.
In September, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) said the Nepalese authorities “should significantly enhance risk-based” supervision of the country’s non-financial businesses and professions, including casinos, regarding AML and CFT.
Nepal is “exposed to foreign money laundering threats from neighbouring jurisdictions due to its porous border and its close economic and trade links” to other places, said the APG in its latest report on that jurisdiction. “Casinos, particularly in the border region, are a key vulnerability to the laundering of foreign proceeds,” it added.
According to APG’s report, there are 28 licensed casinos – including what the institution describes as “15 mini-casinos” – with physical venues in Nepal. Ten are in the capital, Kathmandu, “and the remainder in various locations close to the Indian border”, with an estimated annual turnover of NPR9 billion (circa US$67.5 million).
The country’s casino industry was classified as having “medium-high vulnerability” regarding money laundering risks, following a National Risk Assessment conducted in 2020 by the local authorities.
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