Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Afghanistan
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is not a regional or offshore financial center. Terrorist and insurgent financing, money laundering, cash smuggling, abuse of informal value transfer systems, and other illicit activities designed to finance organized criminal activity continue to pose serious threats to the security and development of Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains a major narcotics trafficking and producing country, and is the world’s largest opium producer and exporter. The narcotics trade, corruption, and contract fraud are major sources of illicit revenue and laundered funds. Corruption permeates all levels of Afghan government and society.
The growth in Afghanistan’s banking sector has slowed considerably in recent years; and traditional payment systems, particularly hawala networks, remain significant in their reach and scale. Less than five percent of the Afghan population uses banks, depending instead on the traditional hawala system, which provides a range of financial and non-financial business services in local, regional, and international markets. Approximately 90 percent of financial transactions run through the hawala system, including foreign exchange transactions, funds transfers, trade and microfinance, as well as some deposit-taking activities. Official corruption and weaknesses in the banking sector incentivize the use of informal mechanisms and exacerbate the difficulty of developing a transparent formal financial sector in Afghanistan. The unlicensed and unregulated hawaladars in major drug areas such as Helmand likely account for a substantial portion of the illicit proceeds being moved in the financial system. Afghan business consortiums that control both hawaladars and banks allow criminal elements within these consortiums to manipulate domestic and international financial networks to send, receive, and launder illicitly-derived monies or funds intended for criminal, insurgent, or terrorism activities. The rapid depreciation of the Iranian rial in October 2012 led to increased demand for U.S. dollars in Iran and a reported increase in cash smuggling from Afghanistan to Iran.
For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: //2009-2017.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/
DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL SALES IN THE U.S.; OR ILLEGAL DRUG SALES THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: YES
CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:
“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes
Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: NO
KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:
Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES
KYC covered entities: Central Bank of Afghanistan (DAB), banks, registered money service businesses (MSBs), insurance companies, dealers in precious metals and stones, lawyers, accountants, securities dealers, and real estate agents
Number of STRs received and time frame: 631 in 2013
Number of CTRs received and time frame: 2,094,803 in 2013
STR covered entities: Banks, MSBs, hawaladars, insurance companies and securities dealers
MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:
Prosecutions: 22 in 2012
RECORDS EXCHANGE MECHANISM:
With U.S.: MLAT: NO Other mechanism: YES
With other governments/jurisdictions: YES
Afghanistan is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: http://www.apgml.org/documents/docs/17/Afghanistan%20-%20published%20DAR.pdf
ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:
The Government of Afghanistan’s ability to enforce relevant laws and regulate institutions is hampered by corruption. Limited resources and lack of technical expertise and infrastructure also hamper effective regulatory oversight.
There is no clear division between the hawala system and the formal financial sector. Hawaladars often keep accounts at banks and use wire transfer services to settle their balances with other hawaladars abroad. Due to limited bank branch networks, banks occasionally use hawalas to transmit funds to hard-to-reach areas within Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s financial intelligence unit, FINTRACA, reports that no MSBs or hawaladars have ever submitted suspicious transaction reports (STRs). Insurance companies and securities dealers are also technically under the regulatory regime and are required to file STRs, but the government does not enforce this requirement. Afghanistan should pass and enforce legislation to regulate financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions and ensure their compliance with AML/CFT regulations. Afghanistan also should issue the necessary regulatory instruments to increase the number of MSB/hawala inspections, and expand implementation of the MSB/hawala licensing program. Afghanistan also should create an outreach program to notify and educate hawaladars about the licensing and STR filing processes. Dealers in precious metals and stones, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents are not supervised in Afghanistan.
Border security continues to be a major challenge throughout Afghanistan, with the country’s 14 official border crossings under central government control. The DAB reported that approximately $4.6 billion in cash left Afghanistan via Kabul International Airport in 2011. Tracking cash movements across borders or through airports has become increasingly difficult with implementation of an executive order that makes it illegal to take more than $20,000 out of the country, but eliminates the need to report outbound currency. Cargo is often exempted from any screening or inspection due to corruption at the border crossings and customs depots. Outside of official border crossings, most border areas are under-policed or not policed at all, and are particularly susceptible to cross-border trafficking, trade-based money laundering, and bulk cash smuggling. Kabul International Airport lacks stringent inspection controls for all passengers and includes a VIP lane that does not require subjects to undergo any inspections or controls. Afghanistan should strengthen inspection controls for airport passengers.
Although Afghanistan recently enacted its Law on Extradition of the Accused, Convicted Individuals and Legal Cooperation, which would seemingly allow for extradition based solely upon multilateral arrangements such as the 1988 UN Drug Convention, this interpretation conflicts with Article 28 of the Afghan Constitution which more clearly requires reciprocal agreements between Afghanistan and the requesting country. Thus, Afghanistan’s law on extradition is currently unclear.
Using Presidential executive orders, the government has frozen bank accounts owned by hawala networks listed under UNSCR 1988. There are no instances of seized bank accounts, and there is no mechanism for asset sharing. Afghanistan should work with the international community to train enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges to provide them a better understanding of the basis for seizing and forfeiting assets. Afghanistan should provide regulators and enforcement officers with the resources to carry out their oversight and investigative duties.
Afghanistan’s laws related to terrorism financing are not in line with international standards and do not criminalize all elements of the terrorism financing offense. Afghanistan has taken steps toward improving its AML/CFT regime, including by establishing high-level AML/CFT coordination mechanisms. However, certain strategic AML/CFT deficiencies remain. Afghanistan should continue to work to adequately criminalize money laundering and terrorism financing; establish and implement an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing, and freezing terrorist assets; implement an adequate AML/CFT supervisory and oversight program for all financial sectors; establish and implement adequate procedures for the confiscation of assets related to money laundering; enhance the effectiveness of FINTRACA; and establish and implement effective controls for cross-border cash transactions.