By BS Reporter
The Lok Sabha on Thursday approved the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011, enlarging the definition of money laundering offences and making provisions for much larger penalty, commensurate with the proportion of the committed offence.
The Bill sought to remove the existing limit of Rs 5 lakh as fine under the Act.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram moved the Bill for consideration, which includes activities such as cheating, concealment, acquisition and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities for the purpose of money laundering.
Chidambaram said while moving the Bill that all the 18 recommendations of Parliament's standing committee had been accepted by the government.
The finance minister, replying to the issues raised by the members, later said the changes in law would give signal to the international community about India's commitment to deal with offences having wide international ramifications. The Bill was later approved by voice vote.
"Parliament has improved upon the law in 2005, after bringing it in 2002, and then again in 2009 and once again in 2012," said Chidambaram.
The amendment Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011 by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and was subsequently referred to the standing committee on finance.
Responding to members' queries on black money, Chidambaram said, "We are taking action. Every single piece of information (received from France and other countries) is being investigated and more action would be taken."
He added that prosecution of 37 cases under the money laundering laws have been launched, but no one has either been convicted nor acquitted.
The amendments also seek to introduce the concept of 'corresponding law' to link the provisions of Indian law with that of foreign countries.
Chidambaram also clarified that black money and money laundering are two different things. "We need to have a separate discussion on black money," he said.
The finance minister also said that government was initiating steps to fill vacancies in the enforcement directorate (ED) to strengthen it to deal with cases of black money.
The government plans to induct 1,319 additional officers in the ED to increase the strength to 2,064.