Govt to rejig, synchronise economic intelligence agencies

New Delhi: As the country is witnessing a series of scams, the government has begun an ambitious exercise to rejig the snoop mechanism and synchronise the databases of economic intelligence and enforcement agencies.

The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB), the apex body which coordinates with all agencies that enforce economic laws in the country and gather intelligence on this front, is enhancing its database with the latest information of economic offenders and offences, official sources said.

The Finance Ministry is also doing a rejig by bringing the classified databases of agencies under its command like Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax department and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for "online exchange of intelligence and information" under a Secure Information Exchange Network (SIEN).

SIEN, being built by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), will have the highly classified databases of 11 agencies — CEIB, DRI, Directorate General of Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), ED, CBI, BSF, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Cabinet Secretariat — on one platform.

"SIEN will enable secure transmission of e-mail, fax, video and telephone over a common encrypted link once its is fully operational," a source said.

In high-profile cases involving multiple agencies, the investigators have to do a lot of paper work to obtain the smallest of information from another agency. Hence, a synchronisation between all these agencies was desired and the new format devised by the ministry is being undertaken as a plan, a top Finance Ministry official said.

The government has also set up a committee to review the structure and enhance the capacity of the CEIB.

All these agencies will also further have a direct liaison with FIU to obtain Suspicious Transaction Reports and Cash Transaction Reports generated by it for probing cases under their domain and their laws, sources said.

CEIB, ED, I-T department and CBI have already entered into MoUs with FIU to obtain these reports.

At present, the CEIB database contains information on about 1,200 economic offenders and 10,000 cases of economic offences. The bureau has data on economic offences relating to fake Indian currency notes, drugs and evasion cases received from the Customs, Central Excise, Service Tax and I-T department.