Reflecting the “high priority” given to combating the black money menace, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth over Rs 5,346 crore in money laundering cases in the first three months of this year.
The agency had attached Rs 3,657 crore assets till December, 2014 and with the latest freeze orders it surpassed previous years record by attaching over Rs 9,000 crore worth assets under anti-money laundering laws during the whole of 2014-15.
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“With a new government in place and a high priority accorded to tackling black money, ED has been a busy place last year. I am happy to report that we have, thanks to the dedicated effort put in by all our staff, surpassed our performance of the previous year,” ED chief Rajan Katoch said during the ‘Enforcement Day’ event in New Delhi.
Katoch said the agency, tasked to probe hawala and money laundering crimes, in 2014-15 completed investigations in a total of 1,918 cases as against 1,836 cases probed last year even as 2,000 preliminary enquiries were “resolved” during the same year.
“The backlog of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) adjudication cases has also been brought down drastically. Laundered assets valued at Rs 3,657 crore were attached during the year as against 1,773 crore the previous year.
“Total value of assets attached has now gone up to over Rs 9,000 crores. We have stepped up our filing of prosecutions from 11 in 2012-13 to 55 in 2013-14 to 69 in the year gone by (2014-15),” he said.
During 2013-14, the total value of attached assets stood at Rs 1,773 crore.
Katoch, who has brought in some new protocols to increase accountability and transparency in this department vested with the enforcement of two of the most stringent laws in the country, said ED’s aim is to be increasingly “firm and fair” in its investigations.
“Public confidence and credibility are the most valued achievements for us…I must mention that during the year we have defined the core values of integrity, accountability, commitment, excellence and impartiality that we expect all our staff to adhere to. We have put in place certain internal protocols to facilitate adherence to these core values,” he said.
The Director, however, ruled that lack of manpower is the single biggest challenge for the agency which is dealing with an increased number of black money probe cases.
“Manpower recruitment and retention is our single most critical issue today. This (good results) has been achieved despite not only a large number of vacancies but an actual decline in staff numbers during the course of the year. ”
“Just think what would have been possible, had we been anywhere near full strength,” Katoch said as he sought the intervention on this front from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das who were present during the event.