The home ministry, which loses no opportunity to advocate intelligence sharing amongst various agencies, has been told to walk the talk.
Finance minister P Chidambaram has turned down the home ministry request for exemption from sharing information with the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) and told home secretary Anil Goswami that economic crimes should not be viewed in isolation but “in totality”.
The CEIB is responsible for economic intelligence, monitoring and fighting economic offences such as smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud.
“The finance minister said the home ministry receives numerous inputs relating to various economic crimes like organised syndicates, scams, hawala operations and these are to be shared with the CEIB selectively,” said a senior government official on the condition of anonymity.
The MHA is only one of a clutch of government agencies that are reluctant to share information.
The minister’s observation may have been prompted by an evident lack of coordination and unwillingness to share information among the various intelligence wings of the government which has often resulted in agencies working at cross purposes.
“Such discord had often led to delayed and ineffective action in cases like the Saradha ponzi scam and many others,” the official added.
The finance minister also pointed out the “unsatisfactory information flow” to CEIB from certain agencies, besides the MHA, like the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), Serious Frauds Investigation Office, Enforcement Directorate and Reserve Bank of India.
“The minister also directed a much-improved performance from these agencies in future,” said the official.
Chidambaram was chairing a recent meet to oversee the country’s economic intelligence apparatus. The heads of more than 20 agencies were present in the meeting.
The DGFT was also singled out for not sharing any information with the CEIB despite having a separate Enforcement Wing that deals only with economic crimes which also come under the mandate of the CEIB.
Touted as a central storehouse of economic intelligence, the continued non-utilisation of the CEIB’s resources by various agencies continues to defy logic. The Bureau has already compiled more than 3,500 dossiers and recorded information of about more than 17,000 cases relating to economic crimes.
Besides coordinated action and pre-emption of economic crimes, exchange of information leads to a familiarisation of the kind of crime besides aiding the finance ministry’s initiative to develop a 360-degree profile of economic offenders.