Money­ laundering poses serious threat to integrity of country: Court

NEW DELHI: Money ­laundering poses a serious threat not only to the financial systems of the country but also to its integrity and sovereignty, a Delhi court has said while sentencing a man to four years’ rigorous imprisonment for smuggling tiger body parts.

Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann convicted Surajbhan under Section 3 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, punishable under Section 4 of PMLA, for committing the offence of money­ laundering and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him.

“Money ­laundering poses a serious threat not only to the financial systems of the country but also to its integrity and sovereignty. The Prevention of Money ­Laundering Act has been enacted on the line of initiatives taken by international community to meet the challenge of laundering of proceeds generated from crimes,” the court said.

On September 7, 2013, three men—Surajpal, Surajbhan and Naresh—were found smuggling tiger body parts in the boot of their car along with Rs 2.7 lakh under the seat and charges under Wildlife Protection Act and Money Laundering Act were imposed on them.

Surajbhan had confessed that he received the money from Surajpal to procure the parts. Surajpal died during the trial while Naresh was acquitted by the court .

According to the prosecution, Surajpal had paid Surajbhan Rs 6 lakh to get two tiger skeletons against a commission of Rs 50,000-60,000.

The complaint alleged that all the three persons were involved in the criminal

activity relating to the scheduled offence under the Wildlife (Protection) Act and they were involved with the proceeds of crime, hence committed the offence of money­ laundering under PMLA.

The court noted that prosecution has proved that Rs 2.7 lakh recovered from the car is proceeds of crime and this money was recovered from under the car seat on which Surajbhan was sitting.

“It has come in the statement of Surajbhan that Rs 2.7 lakh recovered from the car was the part of Rs 6 lakh received by him from deceased Surajpal for purchase of Tiger parts,” the court said.

“It has also been established that money given by deceased Surajpal to Surajbhan was proceeds of crime, generated through illegal wildlife trade,” the court added.

While awarding the punishment, the court noted that Surajbhan belongs to the weaker section of the society and he has no regular means of income and is in judicial custody since the trial commenced.

“The judicial record shows that the convict (Surajbhan) has spent time in the custody more than the sentence awarded. Therefore, convict Surajbhan is directed to be released henceforth, if not wanted in any other case, subject to deposit of fine,” the court said. (AGENCIES)