Enforcement Directorate may have seized assets worth Rs 2,357 crore in 2012-13, a seven fold increase from previous fiscal, but it sees the cases of money laundering, forex violations and other economic offences probed by it as just the “tip of the iceberg”.
The ED has stepped up its prosecution in money laundering cases and is planning to take steps, including filling 1,400 posts, to go full throttle against such violations.
The agency has completed investigations in 1,288 cases during 2012-13 as compared to 655 cases during 2011-12. It was able to seize assets worth Rs 2,357 crore during the last fiscal, a seven fold increase from Rs 333 crore during the 2011-12.
“Where do we go from here? The directorate (ED) cannot afford to rest on its laurels. We have still only addressed the proverbial tip of the iceberg of illegal activity that lies in our domains. There is lot more to be done,” ED chief Rajan Katoch said during an event in New Delhi to mark the first-ever ‘Enforcement Day’.
He voiced confidence that even with constraints, ED will continue enforcing the law effectively and fairly, retain credibility and raise the bar in terms of concrete action against wrongdoers, yet again.
The ED is the national agency to enforce the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) in the country including those with cross-border ramifications.
The agency is at the forefront of a number of high-profile probes such as the 2G spectrum allocation case, the CWG foreign exchange transactions case and money laundering cases related to former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda.
Mr. Katoch, who took charge of the agency in March last year, said it has completed investigations in 1,288 cases (during 2012-13 fiscal) as compared to 655 cases during the 2011-12. “We plan to enhance our investigation capacity in coming years,” he said.
Director Katoch also said the elite agency is “seriously short” of manpower and its infrastructure needs “urgent upgradation” to keep pace with its growth.
The ED, which has 27 offices across the country, has a vacancy in 1,400 posts, he said adding efforts are on to fill them.
The agency has also decided to engage police and enforcement officials of state governments so that they can become effective partners in tackling money laundering and other economic crime cases in their respective jurisdictions.
Speaking during the event, Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose said the Finance Ministry is “concerned” about the large number of vacancies in the agency and the government is trying to “broadbase” the recruitment rules for the agency so that the posts can be filled up at the earliest.
The agency for the first time has hosted the event to reward and recognise “outstanding work” done by its investigators and this is expected to be held every year on the same day.
Nine ED officials from across the country were awarded with citations by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram at the event.
During the event, Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Michael Phelan was invited by the ED to deliver the keynote address on issues related to combating money laundering and also interact with its officials on similar subjects.