Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Briefing On Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill: Highlights

Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi

The finance minister also said that the Cabinet has also approved establishment of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA).

The bill provides for "disentitling" the offender from defending any civil claim. The proposed fugitive law aims to impound and sell assets of Nirav Modi-type escapees with a view to quickly recover dues.

"The bill is expected to re-establish the rule of the law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences", is one impact the government expects of the bill.

"If a person commits an offence on the list, and a competent court has issued an arrest warrant, and the person leaves the country to avoid this, then the court can deem them fugitive economic offenders", Jaitley said.

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The banks that have been asked to shut down foreign branches include the country's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank, and Bank of Baroda.

The move comes in the wake of many financial defaulters including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya fleeing the country to escape the law.

While explaining why confiscation of assets has been provided for, Jaitley said, "A trial of fugitive will never be complete".

Besides the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, the Government believes that separate regulator of auditing profession NFRA will help track such PNB like frauds in the future.

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Should the offender return to India and submit himself to the appropriate jurisdictional court, proceedings under the bill will cease. The new law will apply "the moment the warrant is issued (and) the court decides the man is not submitting".

The bill allowing the government to seize the assets of these offenders was passed on 1st March 2018 known as the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017.

Two, a court of law can declare an accused person a fugitive offender using the powers enshrined in the Act. They have come to symbolise the gaping loopholes in regulatory and auditing mechanism and the nexus between wilful defaulters and corrupt bank staff. Facing public criticism over a growing number of scams, the NDA government has woken up to the seriousness of the issue and come up with a legislation that classifies such offenders as fugitives and empowers the government to confiscate their assets in India and overseas.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while addressing media after the Cabinet meeting said: "Under the Bill all the assets (in the country) of the offender will be confiscated and not only the proceeds of crime. That has been approved by (the) cabinet today", Jaitley said. "The central government can also refer such other entities for investigation where public interest would be involved", the government said in a separate statement. This authority will have it specified on which cases it can act under the rules.

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