What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of illegally obtained funds, making them appear legitimate. This illegal practice is common in India, with funds derived from various criminal activities, including corruption, drug trafficking, and tax evasion, being funneled through complex financial transactions to obscure their illicit origins.
Stages of Money Laundering:
Money laundering typically involves three stages:
Placement: Illicit funds are introduced into the financial system. This stage often includes activities like depositing cash into banks, purchasing assets, or using money for gambling or other transactions to legitimize it.
Layering: In this stage, the objective is to create a complex web of transactions that makes it difficult to trace the source of the funds. Money launderers use various financial instruments, such as shell companies, offshore accounts, and multiple transactions, to distance the funds from their illegal origins.
Integration: In the final stage, the "cleaned" money is reintroduced into the legitimate economy. Money launderers invest in legal assets or engage in transactions that make the illicit funds appear as though they were earned legally. This makes it challenging for authorities to identify the source of the funds.
Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002:
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 is a key piece of legislation in India designed to combat money laundering. Key aspects of the PMLA include:
Legal Framework: The PMLA provides a comprehensive legal framework for the prevention and control of money laundering activities in India. It establishes the offense of money laundering and outlines the legal processes for investigation, prosecution, and adjudication.
Reporting Entities: The act designates certain entities, such as banks, financial institutions, and intermediaries, as "reporting entities." These entities are required to maintain records of transactions, verify the identities of their customers, and report any suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit - India (FIU-IND).
Penalties and Confiscation: The PMLA outlines severe penalties for money laundering offenders, including imprisonment and fines. It also allows for the confiscation of properties, assets, and proceeds derived from money laundering activities.
Global Cooperation: The PMLA empowers Indian authorities to collaborate with international agencies and organizations to combat cross-border money laundering and trace and seize illicit assets held abroad.
Amendments and Enhancements: The act has been amended over the years to enhance its effectiveness and keep up with evolving money laundering techniques and methods.
The PMLA is a crucial tool in India's efforts to combat money laundering and prevent the illegal flow of funds. It plays a significant role in maintaining the integrity of India's financial system and contributes to national and global security by reducing the potential for criminal activities fueled by illicit funds.
Money Laundering in India
Prohibited Activities: Money laundering often involves proceeds from a wide range of illegal activities, including drug trafficking, terrorist financing, corruption, tax evasion, and fraud. India's legal framework encompasses these activities.
Obligations on Reporting Entities: Various entities, including banks, financial institutions, and intermediaries, are classified as "reporting entities" under the PMLA. They are required to maintain records, verify customer identities, and report suspicious transactions to the FIU-IND.
Penalties and Confiscation: The PMLA includes provisions for severe penalties and the confiscation of properties and assets acquired through money laundering activities.
Global Cooperation: India collaborates with international agencies and organizations to combat cross-border money laundering and to trace and seize illicit assets held abroad.
Demonetization: In a significant move to curb black money and money laundering, India implemented demonetization in 2016, invalidating high-denomination currency notes.