Draft law draws sharp divide in Lower House

Anti-money laundering and financing terrorism bill under scrutiny

Abdul Kareem Al-Dughmi gestures during a Lower House session on May 3, 2021
Abdul Kareem Al-Dughmi gestures during a Lower House session on May 3, 2021. The House debated amendments to the 2020 anti-money laundering and financing terrorism bill, which would impose penalties related to UN Security Council decisions. (Photo: Amir Khalifa/ Jordan News)
AMMAN — On Monday, lawmakers held a legislative session to discuss the 2020 anti-money laundering and financing terrorism bill. The bill inspired sharp disagreements among members of the Lower House. اضافة اعلان

The proposed legislation strengthens the penalties for money laundering and financing terrorism crimes, with the addition of detailed criminal penalties in the event that the notified bodies do not comply with the provisions of the law, as well as a specific penalty for violating the legislation related to the implementation of UN Security Council decisions. It entails harsher penalties for legal entities and includes the confiscation of proceeds for the crimes they commit.

Several MPs objected to the bill, arguing that it violates the sovereignty of the Jordanian state. Representative Saleh Al-Armouti for example, asked to return the bill on the basis that it was translated verbatim from another country’s law, challenging anyone who could prove that the law is not a literal translation. Armouti added that “a former prime minister asked the Legislation and Opinion Bureau not to tamper with or change any word in bill.”

Armouti told Jordan News that the law has existed since 2007, but the amendments that it has obtained are very harmful to Jordanian sovereignty. He said that these amendments represent a great threat to the Palestinian cause because it requires Jordan to adhere closely to the decisions of the UN Security Council.

“If the Security Council says that a party affiliated with the Palestinian resistance is a terrorist, then Jordan must comply and agree with this decision,” he said. Armouti added that he called, during the session, to dissolve the (UN) Security Council and reconfigure it to include Arab and non-Arab countries in order to prevent superpowers from ruling over states’ decisions and sovereignty.

The permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), are joined by 10 non-permanent states; currently, Tunisia is the only Arab country on the Council.

MP Nidal Al-Hiari alleged that the bill may serve the so-called “Deal of the Century” — former American president Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan for Israel and Palestine.

MP Raed Smaeirat suggested that the bill be returned to the legal committee of the Parliament. Abdul Kareem Al-Dughmi agreed with his suggestion, and added “I commend the proposal to reject the unfair law, which will hinder the investment process in the Kingdom.”

Likewise, Hiari told Jordan News that the articles of the original law were better since the new bill contains many restrictions on investment. According to Hiari, if the bill is applied, Jordan will become an insecure environment for investment.

He also added that the articles of the bill represent a threat to citizens, as any person may find himself accused of a money laundering or terrorism, according to the unclear articles of the bill.

Hiari said he hopes to form a parliamentary memorandum that will reformulate the law and re-examine it, because it contains dictates from economically prosperous foreign countries; he suggested that it is not permissible for Jordan to apply these dictates literally since the economic situations are not similar.

Dughmi said that the former parliament had discussed the bill submitted by the previous government, describing it as a government of “disappointment”. He also stressed that the Lower House has the right to reject the law, challenging the existence of a text in the internal system of the Lower House that prevents this.

Armouti claimed that the bill violates Article 128 of the Constitution, which states: “All laws, regulations, and other legislative acts in force in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on the date on which this Constitution comes into force shall continue to be in force until they are repealed or amended by the legislation issued thereunder.”

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