This is to make it conform to FATF standards: Pranab

India is making suitable amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to bring them in line with the main recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

He was addressing the welcoming ceremony of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, which began here. The APG on Money Laundering is an autonomous and collaborative international organisation, with a membership of 40 countries and other international and regional observers.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, now covered 156 offences under 28 different statutes as predicate offences and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act dealt with terrorism and combating terror funding, Mr. Mukherjee said.

A financial intelligence unit had already been established to report suspicious financial transactions within the country. As a member of the FATF, India had also accepted an enhanced responsibility as the Asia Pacific Regional Review Group Co-chair. India had ratified the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and also the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, besides constituting a financial stability and development council charged with facilitating inter-regulatory coordination to ensure compliance with the nation's international obligations, he said.

India underwent its first APG mutual evaluation in 2005 and a joint APG and FATF mutual evaluation in 2008. It has been a member of the APG since March 1998 and became the 34th member of the FATF in June 2010.

Reiterating the nation's commitment to counter money-laundering and financing of terrorism, Mr. Mukherjee said a number of measures to improve the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regime had been put in place, in tune with the FATF standards.

The menace of money-laundering, an undesired result of the structural changes in the global economy, could not be contained by any nation alone, he said. Left unchecked, money-laundering could undermine the integrity of any financial system. The quantum of money generated from criminal activities and laundered throughout the world was believed to be several billions of dollars — up to 2-5 per cent of the global GDP.

All nations should come together to launch an effective, efficient and more productive crusade against money-laundering. For this, mutual legal assistance, especially in extradition, and exchange of information and intelligence among enforcement agencies, were imperative, Mr. Mukherjee said.

APG co-chairs K. Jose Cyriac, who is Secretary to the Union government, and Tony Negus, Commissioner of Australian Federal Police; Giancarlo Del Bufalo, president, FATF; and Gordon Hook, APG executive secretary, were present. The meeting will end on July 22.

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