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Now, an elite unit to combat financial fraud

At the receiving end of the Supreme Court's ire for being lax on chasing black money and under severe public criticism for growing cases of financial fraud, the government on Thursday came up with a specialised wing to look into financial crimes. The Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Income Tax) will probe terror financing, money laundering and trail black money among similar other crimes. The wing will be manned by hand-picked officers who are experts in financial and forensic investigations.

 Now, an elite unit to combat financial fraud

Liechtenstein, the ministate known as financial loophole for tax evaders from various countries. Johannes Simon/Getty Images

The move comes as a shot in the arm for the Income Tax department which is currently probing some very high-profile and big-ticket financial transactions in the country and abroad. The department, which has unearthed about Rs 30,000 crore black money in the past two years, has begun putting necessary infrastructure together for the new unit.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had approved creation of the new unit earlier this month and it is on the lines of the action plan -- Vision 2020 -- unveiled by him earlier this year. The document, among other things, focuses on the department's efforts to unearth black money.

Under the provisions of the new Direct Taxes Code (DTC) which is set to replace the I-T Act by next year, the department, with the operationalisation of this elite unit, will have powers to investigate and summon for evidence on the lines of the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

The new unit will enable the department to deploy additional intelligence and investigation tools to detect and combat terror financing, money laundering, offshore tax evasion and other illegal trades which impact national security.

"The new directorate will have more powers than the present investigation and intelligence units of I-T. The new unit will function under the provisions of the Income Tax Act but will have additional resources to check terror financing and financial proceeds of crime," a senior I-T officer said.

The creation of the new unit comes in the backdrop of a new plan of action developed by the finance ministry for the I-T department keeping in view the multitude of financial scams in the country and ramifications on national security through illegal funding and hawala dealings.

PTI

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Updated Date: May 19, 2011 22:56:29 IST