Govt proposes key amendments to PMLA

NEW DELHI: The Central government has proposed changes to various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) through the Finance Bill, including a crucial amendment that empowers the Special Court to restore confiscated assets to the rightful claimants even during the trial.

Welcoming the decision, Enforcement Directorate chief Karnal Singh told The Hindu that the amendments would make the implementation of PMLA more effective.

The amendment to Section 8(8) allows the Special Court, if it deems fit, to consider the claims for the purposes of restoration of such properties also during the trial. Earlier, the assets could be restored only after completion of the trial. “It will help provide quick relief in cases involving public money, including Ponzi scams,” said a senior official.

The government has introduced a new Sub-Section (2) of Section 66, making it mandatory for the ED to share relevant details with other agencies. “In case we come across any information that can be pursued by other agencies, it will have to be shared with the agency concerned for necessary action,’ said the official.

A key proposed change is in the definition of “proceeds of crime”, which now also allows the ED to proceed against assets of equivalent value located even outside the country.

In a move to de-link PMLA proceedings from those in scheduled offences pursued by other agencies, an amended Section 45(1) proposes uniform applicability of bail conditions, instead of only those crimes listed in its schedule that attract more than three years’ imprisonment.

A further limit of ₹1 crore involved in the alleged offence would allow the court to apply bail provisions more leniently to less serious PMLA cases, said the government.

The proposal comes after the Supreme Court recently struck down the previous provision which, the Court said, could deny bail even when there were sound grounds to believe that a person was not involved in money laundering.

Another suggested change is the inclusion of Section 447 of the Companies Act in the list of scheduled offences under PMLA. It will allow the Registrar of Companies to report suitable cases to the ED for money laundering probe.

The government has also brought changes to Section 5(1) to exclude the period of court stay from 180-day limit for the validity of provisional attachment orders and also provide a further period of not beyond 30 days to take care of delays in communication of judicial orders. The agency had to earlier seek a waiver.

The proposed Section 8(3) of the Act gives 90 more days to the ED to file charge sheets, after confirmation of attachment orders by the adjudicating authority. The existing provision does not allow even a single day after the orders are confirmed.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 8:25:17 AM |

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