With reports of sudden escalation in ‘Jan Dhan’ bank account deposits, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has begun a big exercise to gather country-wide details of all suspicious transactions done exclusively in these accounts in the wake of demonetisation.
Official sources said the central snoop agency has sent a communication in this regard to all private and public sector banks to provide it with details of balances and transaction activities in these accounts not only from November 9, a day after when the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes were scrapped, but also about the balance status of these accounts till November 8.
They said the agency, till November 20, has already received responses on about 6 crore ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts and it is now processing and disseminating them to various law enforcement agencies, the most important being the Income Tax department.
The tax department has recently warned people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account, as it had said it will slap charges under the newly enforced Benami Transactions Act against violators that carries a penalty, prosecution and rigorous jail term of a maximum seven years.
The FIU, under the Union Finance Ministry, is the national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions after obtaining Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs) from banks and a host of other financial intermediary’s.
The ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts have seen a huge surge in deposits, with Rs 21,000 crore being parked in such accounts following demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the last 13 days, banks have been flooded with deposits in these accounts that have touched Rs 21,000 crore, sources said.
West Bengal leads the pack of states which has seen the highest deposits so far followed by Karnataka.
Following the currency scrap, the total balance has crossed Rs 65,000 crore to Rs 66,636 crore. As of November 9, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs 45,636.61 crore.
With a view to increasing banking penetration and promoting financial inclusion and with the main objective of covering all households with at least one bank account per household across the country, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) was launched on August 28, 2014.
Such accounts have a deposit limit of Rs 50,000.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said that the government is looking into sudden ‘popping up’ of money into these zero-balance accounts.
“We are getting some complaints that suddenly money have popped up in the Jan Dhan accounts, so there is a misuse and that is why the rationing in initial days takes place,” Jaitley had said.
He had cautioned the concerned agencies will act if anything improper is found in the deposits.
The taxman too has initiated a country-wide operation to identify those bank accounts, including ‘Jan Dhan’, where huge cash deposits of suspicious nature have been made post November 8.
Such instances where the suspicion is found to be true will be prosecuted under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable property, that has been enforced from November 1 this year.
The said Act empowers the I-T department to confiscate and prosecute both the depositor and the person whose illegal money he or she has “adjusted” in their account.