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Black money: Government amends FEMA; strengthens punishments to speed-up recovery

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

With an aim to nab black money stashed abroad, the government has amended the  Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), strengthening punishments for violators.

The amended FEMA allows for confiscation of domestic property of offenders and imposes a punishment of up to five years for the defaulters.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made the changes to this effect in the Finance Bill, 2015 passed by Lok Sabha yesterday.

Jaitley said the new law is to deal with the black money issue stashed abroad and not to harass anyone.

The Bill will now be taken up by the Rajya Sabha.

The new clause inserted in FEMA, says that a person having assets abroad in contravention of law will be liable to a penalty up to three times the sum involved.  There is also a stipulation which states that in addition to the penalty, the offence will be “punishable with imprisonment for a term which extends to five years with fine”.

Further more, the new provision also says Enforcement Directorate can authorise prosecution of the offenders after recording reasons in writing.

A few days ago, the government had introduced a stringent Bill in the Lok Sabha to deal with the menace of black money stashed abroad.

Besides other things, the law provides for imprisonment of up to ten years for hiding foreign assets.

In order to fast-track the recovery of black money, the Bill proposes a one-time compliance opportunity for all those who have stashed black money abroad.

Next Story

US Disaster Relief Agency ‘FEMA’ Exposed 2.3 Million Survivors’ Data

Fema admitted the leak but said it had found no evidence that the improperly-shared data was compromised

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FEMA
Fema admitted the leak but said it had found no evidence that the improperly-shared data was compromised. Wikimedia

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) exposed 2.3 million disaster survivors to possible identity theft, according to a new report.

The report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General on Friday night said Fema improperly shared personal records of the survivors of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires, reports the BBC.

Fema admitted the leak but said it had found no evidence that the improperly-shared data was compromised.

Authorities said Fema shared participants’ home addresses and bank account information with a third party contractor.

FEMA
Semi trucks line up to pick up their loads at the San Juan Regional Supply Center before delivering the aid to those affected by Hurricane Maria, Oct. 12, 2017. Wikimedia

The survivors provided information to Fema in the course of applying for shelters.

More than 20 data fields were improperly shared with the contractor, the Office of Inspector General said in the report.

The name of the contractor was not made public.

Fema spokeswoman Lizzie Litzow said that the sensitive information had been removed from the system following a review, the BBC said.

“Since discovery of this issue, FEMA has taken aggressive measures to correct this error,” Litzow said on Friday night.

“Fema is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system.”

FEMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and its federal partners continue 24-hour operations to conduct missions in support of those affected by Hurricane Maria. Wikimedia

Fema has previously been censured for mishandling information. A 2015 review by the same government watchdog found that survivor’s records were stored at a disaster-response centre in California in open, unsecured cardboard boxes.

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Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August 2017, killing 68 people and causing about $125 billion in damage. Hurricane Irma struck Florida later the same month, killing 97 and causing $50 billion in damage.

Hurricane Maria killed more than 3,000 people in Puerto Rico and ravage the island.

The breach also included victims of the wildfires that swept through California in 2017, with 9,000 separate fires burning 1.2 million acres of land and killing at least 46 people. (IANS)