24 Jan 2010

Revised KYC norms unveiled

The Reserve Bank of India, as ever diligently pursuing its mandate towards prevention of money laundering, has recently issued revised 'Know Your Customer' (KYC) norms to be observed by all agents and authorized dealers in foreign exchange. These norms have been introduced with the following objective;

The objective of prescribing KYC/AML/CFT guidelines is to prevent the system of purchase and / or sale of foreign currency notes / Travellers' Cheques by Authorised Persons (referred as APs hereinafter) from being used, intentionally or unintentionally, by criminal elements for money laundering or terrorist financing activities. KYC procedures also enable APs to know / understand their customers and their financial dealings better which in turn help them manage their risks prudently.
In general, these guidelines stipulate that the Authorised Persons "should keep in mind that the information collected from the customer while undertaking transactions is to be treated as confidential and details thereof are not to be divulged for cross selling or any other like purposes. APs should, therefore, ensure that information sought from the customer is relevant to the perceived risk, is not intrusive, and is in conformity with the guidelines issued in this regard. Any other information from the customer, wherever necessary, should be sought separately with his/her consent." Thereafter the various particulars of these norms have been discussed and described in detail so as to circumvent the three identified stages of money laundering which these norms describe as under;
The offence of Money Laundering has been defined in Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) as "whosoever directly or indirectly attempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime and projecting it as untainted property shall be guilty of offence of money laundering". Money Laundering can be called a process by which money or other assets obtained as proceeds of crime are exchanged for "clean money" or other assets with no obvious link to their criminal origins.
There are three stages of money laundering during which there may be numerous transactions made by launderers that could alert an institution to criminal activity –
  • Placement - the physical disposal of cash proceeds derived from illegal activity.
  • Layering - separating illicit proceeds from their source by creating complex layers of financial transactions designed to disguise the audit trail and provide anonymity.
  • Integration - the provision of apparent legitimacy to criminally derived wealth. If the layering process has succeeded, integration schemes place the laundered proceeds back into the economy in such a way that they reenter the financial system appearing to be normal business funds. 

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