Dirty money trials to be fast-tracked
Faced with a thriving black economy that continues to hoodwink authorities by obscuring the source of funds, the government is set to clamp down on the use of dirty money to fund terrorism, arms smuggling, narcotic trade, human trafficking and trading of animal parts.delhi Updated: Aug 15, 2012 23:46 IST
Faced with a thriving black economy that continues to hoodwink authorities by obscuring the source of funds, the government is set to clamp down on the use of dirty money to fund terrorism, arms smuggling, narcotic trade, human trafficking and trading of animal parts.
The finance and law ministries have fine-tuned amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which will allow officials to investigate the source of unexplained money and frame charges simultaneously with and irrespective of the nature of other crimes allegedly committed.
This follows almost a negligible conviction rate in money-laundering cases - just one since PMLA was enacted in 2002.
Under current laws, PMLA specifies that money-laundering offences be tried only by a special court.
Until now, a person charged with multiple offences, including money-laundering, would be tried for the other crimes first in a different court. The money-laundering probe remained stuck until the other trials were over.
"It's for these reasons and the judicial process of trial that the conviction rate in money-laundering offences has remained almost nil," a government source, not willing to be named, told HT.
The rising incidence of alleged money laundering, including in high profile cases such as the 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games scam, forced the government to introduce amendments that would speed up the probe and conviction.
The government's worry was compounded following a public spat between its top investigating agencies - Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) - in the three-year-old Satyam case, the biggest fraud in India's corporate history.
Serious differences came up between the CBI and ED on which court was competent to try the case where promoters confessed to fudging the company's accounts for several years.
ED, which tracks overseas transactions and money-laundering deals, has pointed out that many such cases of doubtful transactions, some of them suspected to be for funding terror, are stuck for similar reasons.