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Govt creates elite unit to probe financial crimes
May, 20th 2011

Faced with a plethora of frauds and scams, the Finance Ministry has decided to set up a specialised wing to probe financial crimes like terror financing, money laundering and trail black money.

The specialised wing -- Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Income Tax)-- will be manned by hand-picked officers who are experts in financial and forensic investigations.

The I-T department, which has unearthed about Rs 30,000 crore blackmoney in the past two years, has begun putting necessary infrastructure for the new unit.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee gave his approval for the creation of the new unit earlier this month and this has come as a 'shot in the arm' for the department which is currently probing some very high-profile and big-ticket financial transactions in the country and abroad.

This is on the lines of the action plan, called 'Vision 2020' unveiled by Mukherjee earlier this year.

The document, among other things, focuses on the department's efforts to unearth black money.

Under the provisions of the new Direct Taxes Code (DTC) which is set to replace the I-T Act by next year, the department, with the operationalisation of this elite unit, will have powers to investigate and summon for evidence on the lines of the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

The new unit will enable the department to deploy additional intelligence and investigation tools to detect and combat terror financing, money laundering, offshore tax evasion and other illegal trades which impact national security.

"The department has begun putting the infrastructure in place for the new directorate which will have enhanced powers than the present investigation and intelligence units of I-T.

"The new unit will function under the provisions of the Income Tax Act but will have additional resources to check terror financing and financial proceeds of crime," a senior I-T officer said.

The creation of the new unit comes in the backdrop of a new plan of action developed by the Finance Ministry for the I-T department keeping in view the multitude of financial scams in the country and ramifications of national security through illegal funding and Hawala dealings.

"Income Tax department intends to use innovative methods to supplement its traditional enforcement tools in order to reduce the tax gap during the strategic plan period 2011-15. A conscious effort will be made to move towards non-intrusive targeted enforcement tools," the 'Vision 2020' document of the department said.

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