New Delhi: Government has bolstered the capabilities of the elite Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which can now dish out volumes of data on suspicious transactions in 72-hours flat and gain access to secret database of offenders maintained by various law enforcement agencies in the country.
Earlier, when an agency wanted to get any information on financial transactions and other similar details on entities on its scanner the time taken used to be between a fortnight to 20 days.
The elite financial snoop wing under the Union Finance Ministry has switched to full electronic mode for exchange of data, from the earlier existing paper-based pattern, with all probe and enforcement agencies of the country like the Income Tax department, CBI, ED, DRI and Intelligence Bureau among others, beginning November 1.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money had also favoured and recommended to the government in its first report that FIU’s capabilities should be enhanced so that it can timely and pro-actively help probe agencies.
The FIU is the national agency mandated to collect, analyse and disseminate Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs), Cash Transaction Reports and Counterfeit Currency Reports to various investigative agencies of the country after receiving it from banks and other financial intermediaries under a stipulated mechanism.
The agency is also empowered to act and take penal action against defaulting agencies under select provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Official sources said that under the new and enhanced mechanism the FIU, through its special electronic platform called FinNex (financial network), has upgraded its systems so that it can inform a requesting agency like ED or I-T department within 15 minutes of getting an email if it has any information on such an individual or entity under the scanner of these agencies.
In case, the agency has any data on such a flagged case, it will be able to send all information in 72 hours time via the secure electronic communication link to the requesting agency, except in cases of extreme complexity.
Officials, quoting a recent meeting of all agencies held in this regard, told PTI that this new method will not only ensure fast liaison and cooperation between probe agencies in tackling cases of black money, terrorist financing, hawala and money laundering but will also ensure “secure and reliable” communication between them as it pertains exchange of sensitive data.