Business vs. terrorism
06/03/2006, Boris Antsipherov
Businessmen don't like the new law against terrorism.
The Kazakhstani business is worried about the new draft law "On counteracting legalisation (money laundering) of illegal incomes and financing of terrorism."
Moreover, the businessmen found quite an unexpected ally - the OSCE centre in Almaty.
Together with the OSCE centre and supported by it the Forum of Kazakhstani Businessmen has started to implement a project "Round tables in seven regions of Kazakhstan to discuss the draft law…" Obviously, the discussion on the draft law will be widespread. It is the first action in the history of the national business. It is suggested that representatives of the General Prosecutor's office and MPs will participate in the last of these round tables in the capital.
So what has become a reason for such activity of the business community? The idea of combating illegal incomes, especially those connected to terrorism, is not disputed by anyone. But, as always, there are complaints only about how to do it.
Actually the new law suggests establishment of a new service that will carry out functions of financial monitoring over all subjects of not only medium and small businesses - but also banks!
Besides, there are also notaries, lawyers… The list of potential "clients" of this future service that the businessmen have already baptised "financial intelligence" is very extensive.
It will be following all operations, exceeding the equivalent of 3 thousand USD in one area, those exceeding 10 thousand in other areas, and those exceeding 100 in yet other areas.
But it is not what worries businessmen the most. There are very unclear moments in the draft law. In the first place it is the notion of "suspicious operations." In the case that an inspector of the future service will decide to define a given operation as "suspicious," a review will be started. It means that the company (or bank) business will be suspended for a certain period, and, moreover, at the expense of the subject of the review. There are reasons for the businessmen to get nervous: a strong moment of subjectivism plus indefiniteness, moreover - all of it stipulated by the law!
The law will be applicable in a very wide area. Perhaps, the OSCE centre participated in the meeting because the potential future law can also damage subjects of the foreign commerce, including the European countries?
Although not everybody is afraid of the draft law in itself. For instance, Sergey Zlotnikov, Chairman of the public association "Transparency Kazakhstan," said at the round table that as a lawyer he did not have any complaints about the draft law.
"Conceptually there is one important issue - under which structure should a financial monitoring body be created? By all means it must not be a prosecutor's office. It is a novelty, there are around thirty countries in the world that have such authorities and only in three cases they exist under the prosecutor's offices. The problem is that all financial authorities have commercial secrets. If one violates it, to whom should the complaints be addressed? Even in the respected state structures there is no guarantee that there will not be any facts of economic espionage.
Moreover, he noted that the draft law threatens the lawyer's secret
The law must also pass the anticorruption examination. Essentially it means a new controlling authority. Under a formal approach anything can become its subject - theoretically if there is such wish nearly any type of human activities can be labelled as "money laundering," including purchase of goods.
- If one judges from the current draft, the law is not going to be efficient, it will be formal and reduced mainly to a new type of strategic and financial information, because all terms are either weekly or monthly, they don't really impede illegal incomes. For instance, a money transfer can take place one day later and then it will not be a subject to this law, - one of the participants observed.
Besides, it is noted by many that the protection of business rights is ignored in the ideology of the draft law in conditions of the financial monitoring and prevention of suchlike abuses.
It seems that the main struggles over the draft law are still ahead…