Black money: Lack of inputs hurdle for top eco intel agency

New Delhi: A year after it was mandated to create a database of financial crimes and issue alerts to enforcement agencies about black money, the country`s top economic intelligence organisation CEIB is groping in the dark for want of good snoop information.

Top sources in the Finance Ministry said the CEIB, in the last six months, has sent a number of reminders to agencies like the I-T department, ED, IB, CBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence and others to share with it the "gist/summary" of cases they are developing and probing so that it can prepare a "good and enhanced repository" to combat such crimes.

"The various agencies are still not sending the summary of the economic crime cases they investigate or prosecute. The CEIB has made many requests for such information but barring few instances, not much is shared," a source said.

Last year, the government had decided to revamp and review the role and functioning of the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB). A high-level committee constituted in this regard had recommended that all snoop and enforcement agencies under the Finance and Home ministries "will share information with the CEIB, which in turn, will be able to provide back-end support, linkages and insights harnessing the power of databases and data analytics to the agencies, and a holistic view of these activities to the Government".

The CEIB, according to sources, is hence unable to accomplish the task of creating a library of financial crime cases and is also not able to issue large-scale advisories related to economic frauds and scams.

Earlier this year, the CEIB had also presented its case during the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) and heads of agencies meeting it had with the Finance Minister.

The review committee that had gone into the restructuring of the CEIB last year, in the wake of the clamour to combat black money, has specifically recommended that the relation between the CEIB and other agencies should be like the `hub and spoke` model in matters of sharing classified financial crime information.

"The CEIB has taken up the issue of sharing the gist of cases in various meetings. All the agencies under the umbrella should share the gist of such cases so that black money and financial crime cases are tackled effectively," a senior official in the Ministry said.

The report had recommended last year that "in view of the growing complexity and sophistication of economic offences, collaboration across the spectrum of the agencies engaged in enforcement of economic laws ought to be the central tenet of government`s strategy for combating serious economic offences and organised tax evasion.

"It is, therefore, recommended setting-up a collaborative `hub and spoke` structure of partnerships between the CEIB and enforcement/regulatory agencies at central/state levels with the CEIB as the nodal agency at its centre maintaining comprehensive national database of specified types of economic offences investigated by the agencies," the committee headed by former CBDT Chairman S S Khan had suggested.

The committee had submitted its report in July last year to the Finance Minister.