Introducing Saud Syed, an anti-money laundering lawyer based in New Delhi, who’s tackling the injustice and stigma around India’s mass crack down on money laundering in recent years. Chatting with Saud, he spoke about his aspirations, his career growth and the future of anti-money laundering law.
What interested you most about taking on anti-money laundering cases, specifically in India?
“India has become a very fast developing country and financial stability is the most important element a country needs in order to provide better facilities to citizens; it is absolutely essential to eliminate black money. While, being trained as a solicitor, we were taught, the necessity of informing all anti-money laundering, it was then that I felt as though this was one of the best fields to work in.”
What challenges do you face being an anti-money laundering lawyer in India?
“Nearly, 99% of cases are not related to the purpose for which it is evolved, not even 1% of the total number of cases pertain to crimes like, drugs, human trafficking and terrorism, then it’s the method of implementation. If you pick up any “confirmation order” passed by then it would be found out that 90% of the order is copying and pasting of pleadings. This makes it hard to filter through what’s a relevant case and what’s not.”
What are the current laws in India when it comes to money-laundering? How do they differ to the UK?
“In India, the law which governs the field, is the ‘Prevention of Money Laundering Act’ also known as PMLA. If a person is convicted the punishment could be between 3 to 7 years or in some cases up to 10, you can be fined up to 5 million Indian Rupees. In the UK, the approach and methodology are totally different. Reasonable living expenses are a key factor to how the justice system differs. People in India simply can’t afford lawyers that are willing to prove their innocence, making it extremely difficult for a fair trial to be carried out.”
What made you want to launch an office in the UK (London)?
“Being a duality qualified lawyer, I always wished to have a broad presence here. I studied for many year’s here in London, making it all that bit more special to me. I like the way that law is practiced here in the UK and I feel as though other countries could learn a lot from their system – especially India.”
Are there any cases you have taken on recently that would be of interest to readers?
“A case I have taken on recently is one where a total of 26 carbon copy criminal complaints were filed for a transaction, despite them being almost 10 years old. This shows exactly how India are cracking down on, not only everyday people, but even the wealthy. A former chief minister was targeted recently when he made a senior government officer principle, something the system saw as suspicious, despite his status. A vast majority of my clients are of high importance.”
Where do you see the future of your career heading?
“I am now connected to an international community, working for intercepting proceeds, from human trafficking to drugs and terrorism. Whether the cases are in India or the UK, I plan to focus on justice for any of the clients I take on.”
Where is the future heading for anti-money laundering laws and legislations in India? Have they become tighter over the past 10 years?
“The law is being amended due to the directions of executives and officers implementing the law, which is as per a recent observation of Indian Supreme Court – “a fraud upon constitution”. As of today, nearly 30 different laws are in schedule of PMLA. More than 80% of cases are for offence of cheating! None of the changes which were brought in actually helped to realise the original dream of international community.”
What do you hope to achieve in the future when it comes to anti-money laundering?
“100% interception of monies originating in crimes like human and drug Trafficking. In my country, and most of the countries across world.”