Jan Dhan accounts under FIU scanner after surge in deposits
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New Delhi: 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 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 9 November, a day after when the Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes were scrapped, but also about the balance status of these accounts till 8 November. They said the agency, till 20 November, 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 Rs21,000 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 Rs21,000 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 Rs65,000 crore to Rs66,636 crore. As of 9 November, the balance in about 25.5 crore such accounts was Rs45,636.61 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 28 August 2014. Such accounts have a deposit limit of Rs50,000.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said that the government is looking into sudden ‘popping up’ of money into these zero-balance accounts.