In order to widen the scope of Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and solve the difficulties faced by the Enforcement Directorate in prosecution under PMLA cases. Govt. proposes a Bill to amend Prevention of Money-laundering Act via Finance Act, 2018.
Govt. proposes to amend the definitions of “proceeds of crime” which will allow to proceed against property equivalent to proceeds to crime held outside the country also. Further, Govt. proposes to amend Section 45(1) which 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. Further limit of Rs.one crore should allow court to apply bail provisions more leniently to less serious PMLA cases.
Thereafter, in respect to control Corporate frauds, Government proposes to include Section 447 of Companies Act, 2013 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
In order to enhance effectiveness of investigations under PMLA, Govt. proposes to amend Section 5(1) of the Act which would include the period of stay in the 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.
Govt. further highlights that u/s 8(3) the Directorate is required to file prosecution immediately after confirmation by Adjudicating Authority. However, Govt. proposes to provide 90 days more for investigation to ED, before prosecution is filed. Govt. further proposes to introduce Sec. 66 (2) which would provide clear guidelines to share the information relating to contraventions of other laws noticed during investigation by ED, with concerned authorities under the said Act. This would enable exchange of information among agencies and enhance effectiveness of efforts against black money.
Lastly, Govt. proposes measures for the restoration of property of persons adversely affected by PMLA investigation. Govt. refers that Section 8(8) allows distribution of confiscated property to the rightful claimants, only after the trial is complete. However, 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.