Cabinet approves Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018

Cabinet approves Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018

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.

Union Cabinet on Thursday gave a green nod to the proposed law that would enable the government to confiscate properties of fugitives involved in economic offences amounting more than Rs 100 crore.

Jaitley said the bill was focused on the confiscation of assets because the "trial of a fugitive will never be complete". The new law will apply "the moment warrant is issued (and) the court decides the man is not submitting", he added.

"There have been several instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency of criminal proceedings", a government note on the cabinet approval of the proposed bill says.

This Bill also has a provision to confiscate assets of the offender in foreign land as well, for which the government will have to make arrangements with different countries.




Finance Minister Arun Jaitely was of the view that the special forum to be created for "expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India and overseas, would coerce the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences".

According the bill, economic offenders will be treated as criminals. But if he sends a lawyer while choosing to stay away from India, a hearing would start to have him declared a "fugitive economic offender". The decision of the Government comes against the backdrop of various auditing lapses in the banking sector, including the Rs 12,700 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank. The Bill will confiscate assets of fugitive, who left the country after committing economic offences. New and old cases of persons who have fled the country to avoid prosecution will come under its ambit.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal for establishment of the NFRA and creation of one post of chairperson, three posts of full-time members and one post of secretary. "There will also be the provision to confiscate those assets outside India but co-operation of that country will be needed".

On being asked whether the law would apply retrospectively - in order to act against high-profile wilful defaulters such as ex-liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond czar Nirav Modi - Jaitley said action would also be taken against them. Jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants & their firms under Section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies & large unlisted public companies, the thresholds for which shall be provided in the Rules, said Jaitley.

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