LS back in business, approves changes in money laundering bill

P Chidambaram

After four days of logjam on the FDI issue, Lok Sabha was back in business today approving a bill to enlarge the definition of money laundering offences.

The bill, piloted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram,sought to include activities like cheating, concealment, acquisition and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities for the purpose of Money Laundering.

Replying to discussion on the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011, Chidambaram said the changes in law would give signal to the international community about India's commitment to deal with the offences having wide international ramifications.

The bill was later approved by voice vote.

The amendments, Chidambaram explained, sought to enlarge the definition of predicate offences of money laundering and include activities which are defined as crime under various other laws.

The list of offences would include concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities. It also seeks to remove existing limit of Rs 5 lakh as fine under the Act.

Responding to 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.

As regards the Money Laundering Law, he said, 37 cases of prosecution have been launched but no one has been either convicted or acquitted.

The amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

Chidambaram said the government had accepted all the 18 recommendations made by the panel and termed it as an indicator of consensus between government and the opposition on the issue.

The amendments, the Minister said, would also help the Centre bring the anti-money laundering legislation on par with international standards and obviate some of the deficiencies in the present Act that have been experienced by the implementing agencies.

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