Aarti Dhar

NEW DELHI: Parliament has adopted the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2009 with the Lok Sabha passing the measure on Tuesday. The Rajya Sabha cleared it last week.

The Bill aims at combating money laundering, terror financing and cross-border economic offences.

Winding up a discussion, Minister of State for Finance P.K. Bansal assured the Lok Sabha that the government would not be found wanting in acting against those indulging in money laundering.

The law seeks to check use of black money for financing terror activities. Financial intermediaries like full-fledged moneychangers, money transfer service providers such as Western Union and International Payment gateways including VISA and MasterCard have also been brought within the ambit of the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act enacted in 2002.

Consequently, casinos will be brought under the reporting regime of enforcement authorities. The law will also check the misuse of promissory notes. The provisions will check misuse of the “proceeds of crime,” be it from sale of banned narcotic substances or breach of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The passage of the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2009 will enable India’s entry into the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body that has the mandate to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The Bill, after becoming an Act, will address India’s international obligation and empower the Enforcement Directorate to search the premises immediately after the offences are committed and police have filed a report. The period of provisional attachment of property will be increased from 90 to 120 days but the investigating agency can attach property and search a person only after completing the probe.

U.N. convention

The Bill enables the Union government to return the confiscated property to the requesting country to implement the provisions of the U.N. Convention against Corruption. It has also expanded the scope of the Act, adding some more offences such as counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes, and counterfeiting government stamps.