Bill to seize assets of big absconders okayed by Union Cabinet

02 March, 2018, 08:05 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • Cabinet approves Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill to deal with those escaping overseas

The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal to introduce Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 in the Parliament, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday.

The bill gives the government right to seize property of economic offenders who have fled India.

The provisions of the bill will apply for economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya against whom arrest warrant has been issued and are refusing to return to India after defaulting with their loans above Rs 100 crore.

It will target big defaulters, Jaitley said.

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"The Bill would help in laying down measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts", it said.

The bill will now go to Parliament for its approval and then to President Ram Nath Kovind who will sign it into law as mandated under the Indian Constitution.

It is expected that the special forum to be created for expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or 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, the government said. It will likely be tabled in the upcoming Budget Session, which kicks off on March 5.

- As per the draft Bill approved by the Law Ministry, special courts will be set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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The move came after Punjab National Bank last month reported to authorities about the 1.8 billion USA dollars fraud, masterminded by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, though he claimed to owe the bank only 775 million US dollars.

The Director will also be empowered to attach any property of such economic offender, mentioned in the application. "That has been approved by (the) cabinet today", Jaitley said. Centre has hastened it after Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi allegedly defrauded state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs 12,700 crore and left the country.

"(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, any court in India in any civil proceeding before it, in its discretion, disentitle any company from putting forward or defending any civil claim, if an individual filing the claim on behalf of the company, or any promoter or key managerial personnel or majority shareholder of the company has been declared a fugitive economic offender".

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