Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill applicable with retrospective effect

02 March, 2018, 08:04 | Author: Kathy Ellis
  • Cabinet Clears Bill to Seize Properties of Nirav Modi Like Cases of ‘Fugitive Offenders’ in Future

Facing flak for India's biggest-ever bank fraud of 1.8 billion USA dollars, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet Thursday approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill aimed at tightening the noose around scamsters.

Jaitley said that unlike the new bill, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act allowed the confiscation only of economic offenders' profits of crime, and only on conviction. "Even benami assets, if any, would be seized".

The provisions of the bill will apply for economic offenders who refuse to return.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed reporters on the Bill and hoped that it will be passed in the upcoming session of Parliament. Jaitley concluded by saying, "In the last Budget, there was an announcement that the government bring law to confiscate assets of fugitives under economic offences".

The bill has been approved by the Union Cabinet and is going to be a massive crackdown on bank defaulters.

According the bill, economic offenders will be treated as criminals.

The bill defines a fugitive economic offender as a person who has an arrest warrant issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

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The Bill is likely to be tabled in Parliament in the second part of the Budget session that starts from March 6. Such economic offenders will be tried under the prevention of money laundering act.

This act provides for constituting a national financial reporting authority (NAFRA).

He added that under the proposed law the accused will be given a chance to state their case in the high court.

Moneycontrol had first reported on Monday that the government may propose a new law to deal with financial offenders like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya. Such a person will also be barred from pursuing any "civil claims" in the country - officials said this move would discourage such persons from defrauding banks and leaving the country.

The Bill primarily empowers the government and investigating agencies to confiscate property and assets of economic offenders and defaulters who flee India.

The government faced the Opposition's heat after a Rs 11,400-crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB), allegedly masterminded by fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, rocked the country. "That has been approved by (the) cabinet today", Jaitley said. In another decision, the Cabinet also stripped the powers of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to initiate disciplinary action against CAs and audit firms dealing with listed companies, specific companies and large unlisted firms.



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