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Money laundering: ED data says only 2.98 % cases against MPs/MLAs; conviction rate 96%

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New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said that only 2.98 per cent of its overall ECIRs or complaints have been filed against serving or former MPs and MLAs even as its conviction rate under the anti-money laundering law is at a high of 96 per cent.

The federal probe agency has published an updated data of its action under the three laws it implements– the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA)– till January 31, 2023.

The ED was entrusted with enforcing the stringent provisions of the PMLA, enacted in 2002, from July 1, 2005. The law empowers the agency to summon, arrest, attach the assets of the accused at the investigation stage and prosecute the offenders before a court of law.

The data said the ED filed a total of 176 Enforcement Case Information Reports (ECIRs), equivalent to a police FIR, against existing and ex MPs, MLAs and MLCs which comes to 2.98 percentage of the total 5,906 such complaints filed since the law came into being.

It said a total of 1,142 prosecution complaints or charge sheets have been filed by it till now under the PMLA and it arrested a total 513 people under these ECIRs and prosecution complaints.

Trial, according to the data, was completed in a total of 25 cases under the PMLA till this period, and, this resulted in conviction in 24 cases. One case resulted in acquittal.

The number of accused convicted under the anti-money laundering law in these cases stands at 45.

The percentage of conviction is as high as 96 per cent, according to the data.

These convictions led to the confiscation of assets of Rs 36.23 crore while the courts imposed a fine of Rs 4.62 crore against the convicts.

The opposition parties have often criticised the ED for choosing to act against politicians from their ranks and have said that the agency has a dismal conviction rate.

The data also said that only in 8.99 per cent or in 531 cases out of the total 5,906 ECIRs filed, a search or raid was conducted by the agency sleuths. The number of search warrants issued in these 531 cases is 4,954.

According to the data, a total of 1,919 provisional attachment orders were issued by the agency under the anti-money laundering law, under which assets to the tune of total Rs 1,15,350 crore were attached.

The agency has been investigating some high-profile people, including sitting chief ministers, top politicians, bureaucrats, business groups, corporates, foreign nationals and others, under the anti-money laundering law.

The Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA confirmed 1,632 such attachment orders (holding assets worth Rs 71,290 crore) while 260 (with assets under attachment worth Rs 40,904 crore) were pending for confirmation.

Talking about its FEMA action, the ED said it launched a total of 33,988 cases under this civil law till January end this year, and probe was disposed in 16,148 cases. A total of 8,440 show cause notices (after completion of investigation) were issued under the FEMA out of which 6,847 were adjudicated, the data said.

The FEMA was enacted in 1999 after repealing the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act(FERA) of 1973.

The agency also said it initiated FEOA proceedings against 15 people out of which nine have been declared Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) by the courts till now and the assets attached under this law, brought in 2018, are pegged at 862.43 crore, the data said.

The FEOA was enacted by the Narendra Modi government to cripple those who are charged with high-value economic frauds and abscond from the country to evade the law. (PTI)

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