India is amending anti-money laundering Act to align it with the core recommendations of an international body that aims to promote policies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, said today.

Mr Mukherjee said the amendments will be made to the Prevention of Money Laundering and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act-2002, which now covers 156 offences under 28 statutes.

The changes are being made to make the Act align with the core recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Inaugurating the 14th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) here on Tuesday, the Finance Minister called upon all nations to launch a more effective, efficient and productive crusade against the menace.

Global response to the challenge could be in the form of raising awareness, especially its socio-economic impact; creating the legal and institutional frameworks; effective law enforcement and international cooperation, Mr Mukherjee said.

The global policy response to the threats posed by money laundering was initially made in the form of the FATF. Since 1989, the task force and other FATF-style regional bodies, like the APG, have been committed to the effective implementation and enforcement of internationally accepted standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Mr Mukherjee pointed out that the quantum of money generated from criminal activities and laundered globally is believed to run into several billions of dollars, or as much as 2 to 5 per cent of the global GDP; and that it was not possible to reliably estimate the amount.

The Finance Ministry said he had recently augmented by three-fold manpower at the Directorate of Enforcement, which is spearheading India's anti-money laundering investigation.

India had earlier established a Financial Intelligence Unit, which includes a system for reporting suspicious financial transactions.

The four-day APG meeting on money laundering will provide a platform for high-level discussion and cooperation.

It will evaluate the progress made by APG members in implementing the international standards required to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

More than 300 senior Government officials from the Asia-Pacific and other regions are participating in the event, which will conclude on Friday.

The APG co-chairs for the meeting are Mr K. Jose Cyriac, Secretary to the Government; Mr Tony Negus, the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police. Mr Giancarlo Del Bufalo is the President of the Financial Action Task Force; and Dr Gordon Hook is the Executive Secretary, APG.

The Kochi meet assumes significance at a time when India has taken a strong position in the fight against black money. India took over as co-chair of the FATF in February this year.

(This article was published on July 19, 2011)
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