It also proposed certain amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has initiated the process of collating details on all the major cases of such nature probed by various enforcement agencies.
In the initial rounds of meetings, the SIT is focussing on the investigations conducted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes through the I-T Department. The other agencies have also been asked to share particulars of the cases wherein unaccounted-for money is suspected to have been stashed away abroad.
Sources said with a view to taking concrete steps, the SIT has also proposed certain amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). On the lines of punitive provisions in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the proposition is aimed at introducing a clause empowering the investigating agency to attach properties.
As per Section 4 of the FEMA, “No person resident in India shall acquire, hold, own, possess or transfer any foreign exchange, foreign security or any immovable property situated outside India.”
It is learnt that, to plug the “loophole” in the existing legislation, the SIT may propose attachment of assets of accused persons in India, equivalent to the value of properties acquired by them abroad.
Under PMLA, the Enforcement Directorate has in the kidney transplant racket case been successful in getting the Melbourne assets of prime accused Amit Kumar attached by the Australian authorities. The proposed amendment would enable the probing agency to make attachments under FEMA too. Offences under FEMA are presently of civil nature.
The SIT is also exploring all possible solutions to resolve the problems caused by the secrecy clause in the information exchange treaties with other countries that restrains the recipient agency from sharing inputs with others.
Owing to multiplicity of agencies, sources said, comprehensive investigations into the money trail and effective prosecution of violators for a range of contributory offences can be possible only when critical information on entities who stash away unaccounted-for money abroad is followed up jointly by all the agencies concerned.
Reluctance on the part of several countries in sharing information in response to letters-rogatory (judicial requests) is another issue on the agenda.
Based on their past experiences, agencies in their individual capacity have been devising ways on a case-by-case basis to meet the criteria laid down by different countries to obtain information. But, they refuse to share inputs in many cases simply because the offence committed in India is not a crime there.