The project awarded by mFarmer Initiative, a partnership between the GSMA, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID aims to provide small farmers with high quality, relevant and timely information and advice delivered via mobile
Mobile Value Added Service (mVAS) provider Handygo Technologies has been awarded a project from the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation to support the design and launch of an agricultural mVAS to benefit approximately 1 million small farmers in India over the next two years.
The project is awarded by the mFarmer Initiative, (a partnership between the GSMA, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID) which was launched in 2011 with the aim to provide small farmers with high quality, relevant and timely information and advice delivered via mobile. Handygo has termed this rural mVAS initiative as ‘mKisan’. The project aims to empower small farmers by providing information and advisory on agriculture and livestock to help them improve their yield and income.
mKisan is a unique mobile-based extension service which includes comprehensive information and advice on a wide range of relevant topics including crops and livestock, agricultural bulletins comprising agro met advisory, information on market prices, pest and disease alerts and a dedicated farmer helpline. In addition to this, the mKisan project also aims to test video-based advisory and knowledge sharing tools amongst farmers and will provide specific services for women farmers.
Commenting on the announcement Praveen Rajpal, CEO, Handygo Technologies said, “It’s a matter of pride for Handygo Technologies to have the privilege of being associated with the GSMA for such an important cause aimed at empowering the rural community as a whole. This project is a result of our efforts in the field of rural empowerment and has won us recognition.”
Handygo Technologies will use its associations for mKisan product development and marketing. The company has framed a consortium with CABI, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Digital Green for this project. CABI will support on actionable agriculture content and subject matter specialists, ILRI for livestock content and Digital Green for video content on agriculture and livestock. Handygo will promote mKisan in six major states of the country in their regional languages.
DE Shaw, which has also set up a financial sector joint venture with Reliance Industries in India, had filed this application with SEBI in July 2007 through DE Shaw Composite Investments (Mauritius) II
Global private equity and investment management major DE Shaw’s application to set up a foreign venture capital fund in India has been pending with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for nearly six years, as the US-based firm is yet to provide additional details sought by the market regulator.
DE Shaw, which has also set up a financial sector joint venture with Reliance Industries (RIL) in India, had filed this application with SEBI in July 2007 through DE Shaw Composite Investments (Mauritius) II.
However, the current status of the application reads as “incomplete information” and reply still “awaited from the applicant”.
Emailed queries sent to the DE Shaw Group remained unanswered on this issue. The group also did not reply to queries regarding the current status of its RIL JV, which was announced in 2011, but not much details have emerged about its operations since then.
DE Shaw is a global investment and technology development with more than 1,000 employees. It has operations in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Under SEBI’s guidelines, it is mandatory for a foreign investor that it should have got itself registered with the market regulator before it proceeds to make investment in Venture Capital Company in India.
More than 150 FVCIs (Foreign Venture Capital Investors) are currently registered with SEBI to do business in India, while applications are pending from 10 others, including DE Shaw unit.
Among the pending applications, DE Shaw’s is the oldest, while five applications were filed this year itself.
Apart from DE Shaw, nine applications pending for SEBI approval are IDG Ventures India, Blackstone Capital Partners (Singapore) VI FVCI Pte Ltd, Faktory Ventures, BCP V Singapore FVCI Pte Ltd, Inventus Capital Partners Fund II, Karakoram, CDC India Opportunities, India Infrastructure Fund (Singapore) PTE, Ltd and Nirvana Digital Investment Holding.
Real estate business attracts lots of unaccounted money, which may also be laundered money. If somebody purchases multiple properties through one developer or broker, there should be compulsory reporting to the Financial Intelligence Unit
The Government of India has come out with a bill, which proposes to set up a real estate regulator in every state in the country. While this is a welcome move as it has the potential to protect the interest of those willing to buy residential accommodation, there is lot that needs to be done as far as real estate business in India is concerned. Real estate business is India is highly susceptible to money laundering activities. On the face of it, real estate transactions are cash heavy and it is not possible to identify the source of cash. In addition, it is not possible to identify the owners of the property in many cases as there are innumerable benami transactions that take place in real estate. All these instances, give rise to the suspicion that real estate business in India draws laundered money from different sources.
Knowing all this, what can be done to prevent money laundering in real estate in India? Is it possible to stop cases of money laundering in real estate or mitigate it, at least? An interesting aspect of prevention of money laundering in real estate comes from the regulatory provision in Canada. The guidelines for monitoring of real estate transactions in Canada have been laid down by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the country's financial intelligence unit, created in 2000. It is an independent agency, reporting to the minister of finance, who is accountable to Parliament for the activities of the Centre. It was established and operates within the ambit of the Proceeds of Crime (money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its regulations. So FINTRAC is to Canada what Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) is to India.
FINTRAC guidelines for real estate: FINTRAC guidelines on real estate cover the following entities dealing in real estate business:
FINTRAC guidelines in Canada state that if somebody acts as a real estate broker that person/entity is subject to the obligations explained in the FINTRAC guidelines. This includes buying or selling of land, houses, commercial buildings, etc. Such activities trigger these obligations whether or not you get a commission for the real estate transaction and whether or not you have fiduciary duties regarding it. This means that even if in a transaction no commission is received, the real estate broker is still accountable for monitoring money laundering in that transaction. All real estate brokers and developers have to maintain client identification records that have been specified by FINTRAC, which includes document such as provincial health card (exceptions apply), social insurance number (SIN)—can be used for the purpose of identification of the client who has done the transaction in real estate. Similar guidelines have been set up for identification of corporations and other entities.
Apart from obtaining identification requirements from the client, a real estate developer or broker is expected to maintain the following details with respect to real estate business:
If the client information record is about an entity, in addition to the above-mentioned information about the individual conducting the transaction for the entity, the record also has to include the entity’s name and address as well as the nature of the entity’s principal business.
FINTRAC has made provisions for record keeping requirements, as well. The best part of the FINTRAC guidelines is the provision of penalty. Failure to comply with record keeping or client identification requirements can lead to criminal charges against the broker and developer. Conviction of failure to retain records could lead to up to five years imprisonment, to a fine of $500,000, or both.
What can be done in India: In order to curb money laundering in India, following measures can be adopted on the lines of FINTRAC model:
Real estate business attracts lots of unaccounted money which may also be laundered money. Control of money laundering in real estate will make the business more transparent.
(Vivek Sharma has worked for 17 years in the stock market, debt market and banking. He is a post graduate in Economics and MBA in Finance. He writes on personal finance and economics and is invited as an expert on personal finance shows.)