Probes should not hurt investments, FM warns ED

Probes should not hurt investments, FM warns ED

'Number of cases could overwhelm us'

Probes should not hurt investments, FM warns ED

Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday cautioned the Enforcement Directorate not to hurt legitimate investments while probing money laundering cases, and to focus on the ones that are important.

“We must remember that economic activity must not be hindered by mindless investigation and prosecutions... All legitimate trading and investment activity must be fully respected and protected even while we investigate crimes involving money and laundering of money,” he said while addressing officials of Enforcement Directorate (ED).

He further said caution was necessary in deciding which cases to prosecute under the money laundering law. “Otherwise, we will be overwhelmed with cases that we would be required to prosecute,” he said.

The ED, which probes cases involving foreign exchange violation and laundering of money, is investigating alleged violation of FEMA regulation by cash and carry chain Bharti-Walmart, money laundering by Saradha Group and other high profile cases.

“What drives the economy is trade and investments, especially foreign trade. Investments can flow both ways... We must facilitate foreign trade. We must facilitate investments,” Chidambaram said.

Stating that money laundering was behind crimes like human and drug trafficking and terror financing, the Minister called for greater international cooperation to deal with the menace. Extending support to the measures taken by ED to come down heavily on violators of foreign exchange laws, the Minister said that there was a need to strengthen the directorate and fill up the positions lying vacant for long.The biggest limitation is number of people attached to the department, he said, adding that against the sanctioned strength of 2,064, it has in place only 660 people, leaving 1,404 vacancies.

Reported cases of economic crimes just ‘tip of iceberg’: ED

New Delhi, PTI: The Enforcement Directorate may have seized assets worth Rs 2,357 crore in 2012-13, a seven fold increase from previous fiscal, but it sees the cases of money laundering, forex violations and other economic offences probed by it as just the "tip of the iceberg".

The ED has stepped up its prosecution in money laundering cases and is planning to take steps, including filling 1,400 posts, to go full throttle against such violations.

The agency has completed investigations in 1,288 cases during 2012-13 as compared to 655 cases during 2011-12. It was able to seize assets worth Rs 2,357 crore during the last fiscal, a seven fold increase from Rs 333 crore during the 2011-12.  "Where do we go from here? The directorate (ED) cannot afford to rest on its laurels. We have still only addressed the proverbial tip of the iceberg of illegal activity that lies in our domains. There is lot more to be done, " ED chief Rajan Katoch said .

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