New Delhi: With over Rs 1,750 crore worth of assets seized under money laundering laws in the last fiscal, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said it recorded its "best-ever performance" in critical investigations done by the agency so far.
The anti-money laundering (under Prevention of Money Laundering Act) and foreign exchange violations (under Foreign Exchange Management Act) has also made the maximum number of prosecutions against offenders of these laws during 2013-14 financial year.
The ED was established in 1956 to probe cases of illegal foreign funds and other financial crimes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) which was earlier known as FERA.
"We have succeed in recording our best-ever performance in investigations so far. In 2013-14, we were able to complete 1,836 FEMA and PMLA investigations, as against 1,288 cases in the preceding year, with a mere 5 percent increase in staff in the same period.
"65 attachments were effected in 2012-13, this has been doubled to 127 in 2013-14, with the total value of assets attached during the year of Rs 1,759 crore," ED Director Rajan Katoch said during an event to mark the second 'Enforcement Day' here.
The ED boss, who has brought in some very stringent institutional norms in the agency since he assumed the top post two years ago, said the ED's aim was to "build public confidence and establish a certain measure of credibility and trust" amongst the common man.
"We aim to enforce these laws without fear or favour," he said.
He, however, said the agency under the Ministry of Finance was "seriously short of manpower" with only about one-third of 2,064 positions being filled.
Katoch said the agency had done two successful overseas attachment of assets--in Australia and Switzerland--and it was the ED's efforts to repatriate these properties to India.
He also said the legal challenges the ED was facing were "growing" and required "priority attention."
Katoch also sought the support of various state agencies and central probe departments to crack down on economic offenders.
Revenue Secretary Rajiv Takru agreed with the issues that the ED Director had put forth.
He said efforts will be made to fill up posts in the ED "plagued" by a shortage of officers.
Takru said the ED should now move ahead and ensure the restoration of the assets it had seized even as the cases of overseas investigation deserve much greater attention.
He favoured more incentives for the officers of the agency and state-of-the art technical gadgetry for the aid of the investigating officers of the ED.
"In a case which becomes high-profile or is important, the ED's reputation inspires confidence and respect", Takru said.