The Enforcement Directorate has claimed that its conviction rate in cases filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act stands at 96% since the law came into force 17 years ago.

The central agency has based the numbers on the fact that trials have been completed in 25 such cases, of which 24 ended up in a conviction. The Enforcement Directorate said that 45 persons have been declared guilty of money laundering in these cases.

However, the Enforcement Directorate’s claims of a high conviction rate come across as unfounded when seen in light of the fact it has registered 5,906 cases of money laundering since 2005, and has managed to convict alleged persons in only 24 of them.

Even the prosecution complaints – which are equivalent to a chargesheet – have been filed in only 1,142 of the 5,906 cases, data from the Enforcement Directorate showed.

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

The law was amended by the Narendra Modi government in 2019 to make it retrospectively applicable. The government claims the amendments were necessary to strengthen the Enforcement Directorate’s ability to investigate serious financial crimes.

Opposition parties have alleged that the amendments violate personal liberty, procedures of law and the constitutional mandate. They have also alleged that the Enforcement Directorate is being misused by the Narendra Modi-led government to target its political opponents.

In July, the Centre had told the Lok Sabha that the highest number of cases of money laundering – 1,180 – had been filed during the financial year 2021-’21.

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In its latest data, the Enforcement Directorate also claimed that incumbent and former elected representatives account for less than 3% of the accused persons in the cases it has registered. It said that of the 5,906 cases, only 176 involves sitting and former MPs, MLAs and MLCs.

This revelation comes three months after Enforcement Directorate told Parliament that it maintains no records on the number of cases it registers against MPs and MLAs.

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In September, The Indian Express had reported that 95% of prominent politicians who faced action by the Enforcement Directorate were from the Opposition.

On Wednesday, an unidentified official of the agency told the newspaper that the alleged narrative of a low conviction rate has been created by the Opposition.

“That is not how conviction rate is calculated,” the official said. “How can you claim failure in a case which, say, was registered yesterday or whose trial is still going on? The conviction rate is calculated based on the number of cases in which trial has been completed.”

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