Wednesday, March 4, 2015

City Limouzine cases

Black money: probe hit by non-disclosure of information

Investigations into several major financial crimes have hit a roadblock
with law enforcement authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore
reluctant to share information with India, prompting some members of the
Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money to suggest that a
high-level delegation visit these countries.

The suggestion follows the positive response on other important black-money
cases that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received earlier this
month from the Mauritius Government that conveyed its readiness to assist
the SIT.

Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das and the then Central Board of Direct
Taxes Chairman K.V. Chowdary received the same response when they visited
Switzerland on a similar mission last month.

Indian enforcement agencies have, in the past, raised the issue of
non/partial execution of letters rogatory (LRs) -- judicial requests
seeking information from foreign law enforcement agencies in particular
cases -- but to no avail. This, the CBI has submitted to the SIT, has
hampered efforts to bring back illegal money stashed abroad and prosecute

Currently, there are nearly three dozen LRs pending with the enforcement
agencies in the UAE and Singapore.

Investigations in important cases – including Hasan Ali, Madhu Koda, 2G,
Satyam, Indian Premier League and City Limouzine cases --- where the money
trail has led the agencies to the UAE – have, therefore, seen little
progress. In the last two years, even personal interventions by Indian
Ambassadors to get information from the UAE failed to cut ice. In
Singapore, too, where 20-odd LRs including those pertaining to 2G Spectrum
and the Tatra truck deal cases are pending, the CBI has again sought the
Indian High Commission’s intervention. The pending LR issue was also raised
at a meeting between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Singapore’s
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on the sidelines of the Interpol
Ministerial Conference in Monaco earlier this month.

“Although they have been giving assurances of full cooperation, there still
appears to be some reluctance in Singapore on sharing details in major
cases,” said an official, pointing out that the money trail in the VVIP
chopper deal case also leads to some accounts in Singapore.

Against this backdrop, some SIT members have proposed that high-level
delegations, perhaps headed by Union Ministers, could visit the UAE and
Singapore to facilitate the investigations.

Enforcement officials also added that the matter can be taken up at
international forums such as the Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont
Group of Financial Intelligence Units. “FATF, which sets standards and
promotes measures against financial crimes, has a specific provision making
international cooperation mandatory for member countries. Non-adherence can
lead to adverse consequences. The Egmont Group also has an
information-sharing mechanism,” an official said.


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