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Money laundering Act to get more teeth to snap at terror financing
December, 06th 2007
The government is set to give more teeth to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to choke terror financing. Amendments to the Act are likely to be taken up by the Cabinet soon, a source said. PMLA was passed in 2003 and notified in 2005.

The amendments are in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body founded by the G7 countries to develop policies to combat money laundering and terror financing.

Certain provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UFA), dealing with terror financing, could be brought under PMLA. The offences covered under UFA provisions are proposed to be made predicate offences under PMLA.

PMLA may also cover import or export of goods prohibited under the Customs Act and make misdeclaration a punishable offence.

Experts say legal channels such as official trade or letters of credit are sometimes misused to launder money. It would also mean that over-invoicing and under-invoicing of goods would attract provisions of this Act.

Wire transfer agents, money changers, offshore banking units and casinos will have to comply with PMLA. The Act requires banks, financial institutions and intermediaries in securities markets to file 10-yearly records of individuals who have executed transactions over Rs 10 lakh and of customers under the spotlight for suspicious transactions.

Inter-ministerial consultations on the changes to the Act are almost complete, the source said, adding the amendment may be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament.

India has to carry out the amendments to comply with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. The task force has asked all countries to ensure that offences such as financing of terrorism, terrorist acts and terrorist organisations are designated as money laundering predicate offences. India has already joined the Financial Action Task Force as an observer and is keen on full-fledged membership.
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