Enforcement Directorate Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra told a parliamentary committee here on Thursday that certain bottlenecks still existed for sharing information among government departments notwithstanding the changes made in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and agreements signed with various countries for checking money laundering.
Mishra, who was deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, reportedly maintained that the agreements signed with many countries did not actually facilitate a sharing of information.
He cited the example of Singapore and said that if the Income Tax Department had some information from the Singapore Government, it could not pass it on to the ED or any other organisation of the Government of India for action because the agreement did not permit this.
The committee is headed by former Union minister and senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily. Those present at Thursday’s meeting included former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, Saugata Roy and Dinesh Trivedi of Trinamool Congress, Nishikant Dubey and Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP, Anil Desai of Shiv Sena and A Navaneethakrishnan of AIADMK.
Responding to questions from members regarding Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, Mishra said several steps including confiscation of properties had been taken against them. When members sought information about people who had defaulted on the repayment of loans amounting to Rs 100 crore and above, Mishra said he would give his reply in writing.
One member pointed out that names of 381 people had figured in the Panama papers. Of them, action had been initiated against 40 people. Why no action had been taken against the rest, he asked, adding that even when some action had been taken, progress was very slow.
In contrast, the member said, the trial of former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharief had been fast-tracked. He also demanded action against those who had had made huge purchases in cash from Nirav Modi.
Serious Fraud Investigation Office Director Amardeep Singh Bhatia dwelt on the crackdown on shell companies, a major source of money laundering.
This was the last sitting of the current committee, which would be due for a reconstitution after the Lok Sabha polls.
The panel adopted a draft report on the ‘Status of unaccounted income/wealth both inside and outside the country – A critical analysis’.
The government had circulated reports from different think-tanks – marked “secret” and “confidential” – among the members last evening. Earlier, the central government had attracted a lot of flak for sharing these reports only with Moily.