Vienna: India is set to take a definitive "lead role" in combating money laundering and illegal funds generation from drug trafficking by establishing a regional cooperation platform for Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations soon, a top official said here.
The proposed regional forum called the South Asian Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre on Transnational Organised Crime (SARICC-TOC) was mooted during a meeting between the grouping's countries in New Delhi last year and should be up and working in the next six months time to share vital intelligence and information on the illicit drugs trade and trafficking in the shared region of the neighbours.
"The SARICC-TOC should get established in the next six months. It will be a major development and will play an important role in preventing flow of money in these transnational crimes and preventing such illicit financial flows," Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI on Monday.
Adhia was here to deliver a speech at the UN Special segment of the 59th session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
The Indian government, he said, is poised to take a "greater leadership role" in drug control and fighting transnational organised crime that has a negative impact on development and security.
"This is in line with India's growing stature and geopolitical position being at the cross-roads of major drug production centres and trafficking hubs," Adhia said.
In India, the Department of Revenue under the Finance Ministry, is the nodal empowered department mandated to frame policies to combat the narcotics menace while the enforcement
of laws in this domain is entrusted with central agencies like the Narcotics Control Bureau and various state police departments.
The official said India "will not only host the Council and Secretariat of this new platform in Delhi but will also be the permanent co-chair of the Council."
In his speech, Adhia highlighted some concerns that policy making bodies and law enforcement agencies are facing to curb the illegal use of narcotics and its trafficking.
"Money laundering and illicit financial flows and proceeds of crime generated from drug trafficking and other trans-national organised crime remain a major challenge.
"In order to effectively counter this challenge, India has recently amended its laws related to money laundering and Foreign Exchange Management Act," he said.
The recent changes provide for seizure and confiscation of property of equivalent value within the country, if it is established that property held abroad is in violation of FEMA and anti-money laundering legislation," Adhia said.