Monday, May 20, 2013

Dirty money probe not all smooth sailing

The Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DMLI), which yesterday chargesheeted five dons accusing them of amassing property without known legal sources, has so far collected around some Rs 210 million from earlier cases.
However, only 10 of the 24 cases of money laundering have been finalised, according to DMLI. "In all 10 cases, the court ruling has been in favour of the department, making it collect Rs 107.90 million," a source said seeking anonymity.
According to the anti-money laundering law, the accused, after being convicted by the court, also must pay a fine equal to the amount they are charged with amassing illegally. Including the cases of the five gangsters against who the department has moved the Special Court, the total cases now are worth around Rs 1.74 billion. The department yesterday filed money laundering cases against five dons charging them with accumulating assets worth Rs 630 million through extortion, commission and other criminal activities.
Its's latest move may look pretty promising, but it is not all smooth sailing, especially when it comes to country's commitment to the international community to fight against dirty money. In the last two years since its establishment,
Department of Money Laundering Investigation has seen as many as six chiefs; needless to say, because of political pressure.
"Once we start investigation, the department chief gets a transfer order," the source said, adding that the department, which can investigate politically exposed persons (PEPs), their families and associates, and gangsters if they are found to have accumulated wealth without any particular source of income, is in need of more teeth.
The amended recommendation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — a global anti-money laundering agency — has asked the national authorities to issue a public list of PEPs to check corruption, apart from financing terrorist activities. "But the long-drawn political transition and frequent government changes have thrown a spanner in the department's works," he added.
"The government had planned to appoint secretary, instead of current provision of joint secretary, as the director general to head the department to strengthen it, but the entire process has been delayed to due to 'pressure'," the source said.
Meanwhile, the government has — due to pressure from the FATF — recently finalised the amended Assets Laundry Prevention Act (ALPA) for the third time — as the second amendment was not able to include updated provisions — apart from bringing Proceeds Act that will help seized properties manage and give enough teeth to fight against organised crime and help streamline all others seizures and management of confiscated assets procedures in various Acts.
Established in July 2011 as a pivotal investigative body to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, and any form of illegal earnings and contribution to terrorism and proliferation, Department of Money Laundering Investigation, can investigate PEPs, apart from gangsters, anytime from earlier dates.


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