Kind attention is invited towards the news with the headline “Financial Intelligence Unit refuses to share information” published on 10 June 2017 with the byline of Abhinandan Mishra. Though it has been mentioned that while replying to the RTI query filed by your newspaper, Financial Intelligence Unit stated that it is exempted under Section 24 (I) of the RTI Act, many imputations have been cast upon FIU-India without verifying facts, which are totally false and malicious. Financial Intelligence Unit-India has a clear recruitment policy and posts have been filled within strict norms taking only suitable candidates.
The news item is totally devoid of facts and mere assumption of the above-mentioned reporter. Publication of such false news about FIU-India is a clear violation of ethical norms and not expected from a newspaper of your stature. It is requested that denial of news be published prominently and action be taken against the concerned journalist under intimation to FIU-India, failing which FIU-India shall be constrained to initiate appropriate action under the law.
Satyendra Narayan Pandey
Financial Intelligence Unit-India
OUR REPORTER REPLIES
The report was based on an RTI application that I had filed with the FIU seeking the following details (check image).
1. The details of cases of money laundering that have been discovered since January 1, 2006. 2. The details of cases of money laundering that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has registered since January 1, 2016. 3. The details of the total allotted staff strength to FIU. 4. The details of the present staff strength of FIU. In its response, the FIU stated that its sanctioned strength is 75, while the present strength is 37. It also said that out of these 37, 15 were hired as consultant on contract. (Check image for RTI reply). As per their reply, I also mentioned in my story that it is exempted from sharing certain information under the RTI Act.
From the RTI reply, it is clear that:
1. The FIU was functioning at half its strength. 2. A major chunk of the staff (17) employed at the FIU, which handles sensitive documents and matters concerning national security, are not government servants, but recruited as contractual employees. 3. My sources in the Finance Ministry had said that the FIU was not able to function as it should because of the staff shortage and it was also being forced to employ contractual employees to deal with the shortage. I would like to state that I did the report with the best of intentions, which was to point out the fact that FIU’s work was being hampered due to staff shortage, which was backed by the data given by the FIU itself. The report is not false or malicious, as the notice given by the FIU indicates.