The Enforcement Directorate has convicted only 23 persons in 5,422 cases registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act since the law came into force 17 years ago, the Centre told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

In the last 10 years, the highest number of cases – 1,180 – were filed under the law during the financial year 2021-’21, Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

“Till March 31, 2022, ED recorded 5,422 cases under the PMLA, attached proceeds of crime of Rs 1,04,702 crores [approximately], and filed prosecution complaints [chargesheets] in 992 cases resulting in the confiscation of Rs 869.31 crore and conviction of 23 accused,” Chaudhary said.

Breakdown of cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate under the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. (Source: Lok Sabha)

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act was enacted in 2002 and implemented in 2005. It was enacted to prevent money laundering mainly resulting from the international narcotics and drugs trade.

However, over the years a number of crimes have been brought under the ambit of this law through amendments, increasing the scope of Enforcement Directorate to start proceedings under the Act. It started with offences from six legislations but now it has offences from 30 legislations.

Some lawyers have also argued that now the list of offences also include less serious such as infringement of copyright and application of false trademarks.

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Chaudhary also told the Lower House that till March 31, the agency has filed 30,716 cases under the Foreign Exchange Management Act resulting in 8,109 show cause notices.

“Further, 6,472 SCNs [show cause notices] were adjudicated under FEMA, thereby imposing penalty of around Rs 8,130 crore,” he added. “Further, assets to the tune of Rs 7,080 crore [approximately] have been seized under FEMA.”

In the last 10 years, the highest number of cases under the Act was filed in financial year 2021-’21 at 5,313.

The Foreign Exchange Management Act was enacted in 1999 after repealing the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1973, reported the Hindustan Times.