There has been a sharp spurt in suspicious transactions, including some high value cross-country monetary deals over the last three years, reports analysed out by the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) show.
The number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) filed by banks and financial institutions have more than doubled to 10,067 in 2009-10 from 4,409 in 2008-09. These include a bank account opened on forged documents by a suspected Indian Mujahideen operative, transactions worth Rs 190 crore of multilevel marketing firm’s offering get-rich-quickly scheme, FIU’s annual report said.
The FIU, created by the finance ministry in 2004 to monitor money laundering, has prepared a list of thousands of cases of doubtful foreign remittance.
Intelligence agencies, tax authorities, enforcement agencies and regulators are now analysing the end use of these transactions, many of which might have been invested in stock markets, real estate deals, insurance premia and or used for terrorist financing.Large number of accounts having a common account holder, unexplained transfer of money among multiple accounts, unusual activity compared to past transactions, sudden activity in dormant accounts, and large sums transferred from overseas for making payments are among those where suspicious transactions are monitored.
The Prevention of Moneylaundering Act requires every bank, financial institution or intermediaries such as stock brokers and merchant bankers to furnish details of suspicious transactions.
“Reports were received from a bank regarding opening of accounts through introduction by a person alleged to be involved in terrorist activities. It was also reported that the identity proof submitted appeared to be forged and the photograph belonged to some other person. The reports were disseminated to an intelligence agency and enquiries confirmed the facts that the introducer was an operative of Indian Mujahideen and had opened accounts in bogus names/addresses with the help of forged documents with the intent of using these accounts in terrorist financing,” the report said.
In another instances, authorities smelt suspicious transactions in money deposited by investors in a bank branch in eastern India in a “Ponzi scheme” — a racket in which new members enrich the old one resulting in a fragile financial pyramid that might suddenly collapse one day.
Investigations revealed that funds deposited in bank accounts of firms were being transferred to personal accounts of the persons operating the schemes or to current accounts of associate firms. Some of the individuals involved had resigned from the directorship of companies but were still continuing to operate bank accounts and sign cheques.
The cumulative turnover in these related accounts was more than Rs 300 crore in a single year, the report said.