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Tough graft laws, tab on big spenders soon

The UPA government is set to unveil a slew of measures, including 10 years rigorous imprisonment of government officials found taking bribes and a host of rules that will make it obligatory for big spenders to voluntarily report high-value transactions. Gaurav Choudhury reports.

business Updated: Feb 29, 2012 09:02 IST
Gaurav Choudhury
People-take-part-in-a-protest-march-against-corruption-from-India-Gate-to-Jantar-Mantar-in-New-Delhi
People-take-part-in-a-protest-march-against-corruption-from-India-Gate-to-Jantar-Mantar-in-New-Delhi

Clearly stung by the rising public outrage over corruption, the UPA government is set to unveil a slew of measures, including 10 years rigorous imprisonment of government officials found taking bribes and a host of rules that will make it obligatory for big spenders to voluntarily report high-value transactions.

Some of the measures will be taken through the legislative route and some through administrative steps.

The measures are part of a 160-page Black Money Committee Report drafted by a panel headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The committee, set up last June, finalised its report on January 31. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/29_feb_pg1a.jpg

If you are buying bullion or jewellery worth even Rs 5 lakh you will have to disclose it to the tax authorities while the government may buy out your property if it smells an undervalued deal aimed at avoiding tax.

While the government's financial spies will now sit in key banks and financial institutions to snoop on transactions that may be suspicious, the government is poised to crack down on black money according to the report of a high-level committee mandated to recommend ways to unearth black money.

To tighten the noose on overseas transactions said to be aiding money laundering, the government plans to make it mandatory for all overseas transactions to be reported to the income tax department.

"This measure is broadly modelled on the lines of the USA's Patriot Act," an official source not wishing to be identified told HT.

The Patriot Act was adopted in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks aimed at strengthening US measures to prevent, detect, and prosecute international money laundering and financing of terrorist activities in the country.

Once implemented, financial market intermediaries such as stock-brokers and insurance agents will have to provide access to information to government authorities if they so demand as part of a crackdown on money laundering tools that impact the banking, financial, and investment communities.

The steps recommended by the panel also include setting up institutions to deal with illicit funds.