A Bill seeking to enlarge the definition of money laundering offences and to help curb funding of terrorist operations was approved by Parliament today.
The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote after finance minister P Chidambaram emphasised the need for continuously amending the law to meet new challenges.
The Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha last month, seeks to remove the existing limit of Rs 5 lakh as a fine under the Act. Replying to the debate, Chidambaram said the Bill would help in checking money laundering and especially funding terrorist operations.
Clarifying members' doubts, he said the Bill was first approved in 2002 and twice after that had been brought for amendment. In the next three-four years, there can be more amendments, as it is an evolving issue to meet the challenges, the finance minister said.
Moving the Bill for consideration, he said: “It (money laundering) is a global menace. We have amended the Bill in 2005 and 2009. India is a member of the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering and we need to amend our law to align with the international law."
The government has accepted all 18 recommendations made by the parliamentary standing committee. Chidambaram said the Bill sought to enlarge the definition of the offence of money laundering to include activities like concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities.
The proposed amendment seeks to introduce the concept of 'corresponding law’ to link the provisions of Indian law with the laws of foreign countries. It also proposes to make provision for attachment and confiscation of the proceeds of crime even if there is no conviction so long as it is proved that the offence of money laundering has taken place and property in question is involved in money-laundering.
It also provides for appeal against the orders of the appellate tribunal directly to the Supreme Court.
Initiating the debate on the Bill, Prakash Javadekar of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said: “I am happy that major recommendations made by the parliamentary committee have been accepted.” He, however, added: “The legislation alone will not help. Whether it is implemented or not, that need to be seen... Officers will work arbitrarily. Without political will, black money cannot be brought back.”