Sandeep Joshi

It will strengthen legal framework to tackle cases effectively

Bill aims at checking use of illegal money for financing terror

Moneychangers, money transfer service providers

brought within ambit of law

NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Prevention of Money-Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2008.

It aims at checking the use of illegal money for financing terror and other anti-national activities, cross-border offences and the menace of fake currency, and at facilitating India’s entry into Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body mandated to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Replying to a debate, Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal said the Bill would strengthen legal framework to deal with cases of money laundering and terror financing more effectively. Financial bodies like full-fledged moneychangers, money transfer service providers and international payment gateways, besides casinos, have been brought within the ambit of the law.

India can enter FATF

With the passage of the Bill, India could enter the FATF, where the country now has observer status. “Now we can aspire to become a member of FATF,” Mr. Bansal said. It would also address India’s international obligation and empower the Enforcement Directorate to search premises immediately after offences were committed and the police filed a report.

Earlier, taking part in the debate, Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the Congress-led UPA government for repealing the Prevention Of Terrorism Act, which had “enough provisions to deal with cases related to money laundering and financing of terror.”

“Tackle mafia investments”

Mr. Prasad urged the government to address the issue of mafia investing money in the real estate and the stock market. India was surrounded by all sorts of illegal channels through which black money was seeping into its economy, he said.

“Broaden law”

Jayanthi Natarajan (Congress) said the legislation needed to be broadened, as money laundering was done through various channels like drug peddling and smuggling. India should enter into agreements with nations for exchange of information on ‘hawala’ operators and money launderers.

Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI-M) said the amended law would more effectively tackle money laundering, which was a key tool in sponsoring terrorism.