In a relief for duped investors of the Rs 10,000-crore Saradha chit-fund scam and other collective investment schemes, the Centre is considering a new amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which may enable the compensation against property of accused persons and entities confiscated or attached under it to their victims.
The CBI, which is probing the Saradha scam has lodged 47 cases under sections related to cheating and criminal conspiracy. Another central agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing the alleged fraud separately under provisions of the PMLA and has taken under its scanner suspicious multi-crore monetary transactions conducted via alleged shell firms.
The move to introduce the amendment was initiated by the ED -- one of its top officials wrote to the finance ministry requesting him to recommend the proposed amendment on restoration to the law ministry, said a government source.
For now, the PMLA provides for the confiscation of the properties involved in money laundering but does not provide any relief to lawful claimants of such properties who may have been victims of the crime, said the source. "At present, no provisions exist that recognise the lawful claims of such victims on the property confiscated. In the light of such experience, having such a provision in the law appears to be warranted," wrote the official.
The ED official supported his arguments by citing the cases of victims of fraudulent investment schemes like the Saradha scam.