After defying efforts to share economic intelligence with the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB)—which comes under the finance ministry—the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has now been forced to toe the line.
In what can arguably be seen as an end to a turf battle, MHA has now directed a few of its wings to shed their marked reluctance and share the sought inputs relating to economic crimes with the finance ministry division.
“Being forced to comply, the MHA has now issued necessary directions to its Internal Security Division and the Centre-State Division wings to share all relevant inputs in their possession including those pertaining to hawala operators with the CEIB,” a top government official told HT on condition of anonymity.
The official added that the directive had come at the behest of the Economic Intelligence Council after “the position remained unchanged in respect of the enforcement and intelligence agencies despite clear instructions from the finance minister”.
The development is significant in the backdrop of an evident lack of coordination and unwillingness to share information among the various security and intelligence wings of the government which has often resulted in agencies working at cross purposes, more so in the sphere of economic crimes.
Last year in the Saradha scam for instance, for more a year, various state governments, income tax sleuths, Intelligence Bureau and others sat on suspicious transaction tip-offs that were reported by banks to the finance ministry.
The MHA—known to harp on the benefits of information sharing whenever it has the opportunity—found itself on the receiving end in September after its request for exemption from sharing information with the CEIB was turned down by the Union finance minister P Chidambaram himself. The minister had told home secretary Anil Goswami that economic crimes cannot be viewed in isolation but ‘in totality’.
Even after Chidambaram’s intervention, economic intelligence information from the MHA was not forthcoming so much so that the revenue secretary in the finance ministry had to put his complaint on record.
A central storehouse, CEIB’s resources include compilation of about 4,500 dossiers and recorded information of more than 17000 cases relating to economic crimes.