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Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

Context:

The draconian Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002 has evolved as the Government’s “hatchet” law in recent years, considering the series of raids and arrests of politicians, their relatives, and activists. The frequency and timings of these raids and arrests have raised suspicions of whether the PMLA and its agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), are the tip of the spear used to strike rival camps with political embarrassment..

Relevance:

GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Money Laundering), GS II: Governance

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002
  2. Enforcement Directorate
  3. Functions of Enforcement Directorate

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002

  • According to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, Money laundering is concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.
    •  It is frequently a component of other, much more serious, crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery or extortion.
  • Money laundering is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 7 years and Fine under the PMLA.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is responsible for investigating offences under the PMLA.
  • The Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) is the national agency that receives, processes, analyses and disseminates information related to suspect financial transactions.
  • After hearing the application, a special court (designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act PMLA, 2002) may declare an individual as a fugitive economic offender and also confiscate properties which are proceeds of crime, Benami properties and any other property, in India or abroad.
  • The authorities under the PMLA, 2002 will exercise powers given to them under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
    • These powers will be similar to those of a civil court, including the search of persons in possession of records or proceeds of crime, the search of premises on the belief that a person is an FEO and seizure of documents.

Enforcement Directorate

  • The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) is a law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India.
  • It is part of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government Of India.
  • It is composed of officers from the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Corporate Law Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.
  • The origin of this Directorate goes back to 1 May 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed, in Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
  • In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.

Functions of Enforcement Directorate

  • The prime objective of the Enforcement Directorate is the enforcement of two key Acts of the Government of India namely, the
    • Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA)
    • the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA).
  • The ED’s (Enforcement Directorate) official website enlists its other objectives which are primarily linked to checking money laundering in India.
  • In fact this is an investigation agency so providing the complete details on public domain is against the rules of GOI.
  • ED; investigates suspected violations of the provisions of the FEMA.
    • Suspected violations includes; non-realization of export proceeds, “hawala transactions”, purchase of assets abroad, possession of foreign currency in huge amount, non-repatriation of foreign exchange, foreign exchange violations and other forms of violations under FEMA.
  • ED collects, develops and disseminates intelligence information related to violations of FEMA, 1999. The ED receives the intelligence inputs from Central and State Intelligence agencies, complaints etc.
  • ED has the power to attach the asset of the culprits found guilty of violation of FEMA.
    • “Attachment of the assets” means prohibition of transfer, conversion, disposition or movement of property by an order issued under Chapter III of the Money Laundering Act [Section 2(1) (d)].
  • To undertake, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action and survey etc. against offender of PMLA offence.
  • To provide and seek mutual legal assistance to/from respective states in respect of attachment/confiscation of proceeds of crime and handed over the transfer of accused persons under Money Laundering Act.
  • To settle cases of violations of the erstwhile FERA, 1973 and FEMA, 1999 and to decide penalties imposed on conclusion of settlement proceedings.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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