The government has moved the amendments to the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) through Finance Act 2018. The government aims to make the Act more effective and to widen its scope and take care of certain procedural difficulties faced by the Enforcement Directorate in prosecution of PMLA cases. Here are the key amendments about which one must know:
Measures to enhance effectiveness of PMLA
- Amendment in definition of “proceeds of crime” :The definition of “proceeds of crime” in PMLA was amended in 2015 to include “property equivalent held within the country” in case proceeds of crime is taken out or held “outside the country”. The present amendment shall allow to proceed against property equivalent to proceeds to crime held outside the country also.
- Amendment in bail provisions: Amendment proposed in Section 45(1) would make the applicability of bail conditions uniform to all the offences under PMLA, instead of only those offences under the schedule which are liable to imprisonment of more than 3 years. This will be a significant step forward in delinking the proceedings against scheduled offences and Money laundering offences under PMLA.
Further limit of Rs.one crore shall allow court to apply bail provisions more leniently to less serious PMLA cases.
- Corporate frauds included as Scheduled offence:Section 447 of Companies Act is being included as scheduled offence under PMLA so that Registrar of Companies in suitable cases would be able to report such cases for action by Enforcement Directorate under the PMLA provisions. This provision shall strengthen the PMLA with respect to Corporate frauds.
- Measures to enhance effectiveness of investigations
Section 5(1) of the Act provides that every order of provisional attachment passed by an officer of Enforcement Directorate shall cease to have effect after 180 days from the date of the provisional attachment order, unless confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority under PMLA within that period. The section is proposed to be amended to include the period of stay in this time limit of 180 days and also further period of not more than 30 days to take care of delays if any in communication of judicial orders.
- Under the existing provision of Section 8(3), presently, the Directorate is required to file prosecution immediately after confirmation by Adjudicating Authority. Proposed amendment gives 90 days more for investigation to ED, before prosecution is filed.
- New sub-section (2) of section 66 is being introduced to provide for clear guidelines to share the information relating to contraventions of other laws noticed during investigation by ED, with concerned authorities under the said Acts. This shall enable exchange of information among agencies and enhance effectiveness of efforts against black money.
- Measures for restoration of property of persons adversely affected by PMLA investigation
Present provisions under Section 8(8) allow distribution of confiscated property to the rightful claimants, only after the trial is complete. Present amendment allows Special Court, if it thinks fit, to consider the claims of the claimants for the purposes of restoration of such properties even during trial also, in such manner as may be prescribed.