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Rediff.com  » Business » Govt fast-tracks bill to seize assets of defaulters fleeing India

Govt fast-tracks bill to seize assets of defaulters fleeing India

February 27, 2018 06:58 IST

Currently, confiscation can be done through multiple laws, but it is a complicated process.
Arup Roychoudhury and Indivjal Dhasmana report.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Stung by the Rs 114 billion scam at Punjab National Bank, the government is considering fast-tracking the draft fugitive economic offenders Bill.

The draft law might soon be placed before the Cabinet before being tabled in Parliament in the post-recess Budget session.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had first spoken of such a Bill in the 2017-18 Budget.

The draft Bill, which has the law ministry's approval, allows the government to confiscate the properties of economic offenders and defaulters who flee India.

Currently, confiscation can be done through multiple laws, but it is a complicated process.

Even existing cases could come under the proposed law, which means that cases relating to Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi will also be covered. But the law would not cover earlier cases, sources said.

The Bill also proposes to give greater powers to investigative agencies.

It allows quicker attachment and disposal of properties and assets, helping recovery.

Currently, properties of offenders can be attached by courts. The Bill proposes having special courts to attach these properties, sources say.

The Bill has provisions for appointing an administrator to dispose of the property to pay creditors.

Besides, the provisions of the proposed law will override the provisions of existing laws, say sources.

As of now, the laws under which such offenders are tried are the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

According to the draft law, a fugitive economic offender is an individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to an economic offence has been issued, and the person has left the country and refuses to return to face criminal prosecution. The authorities have to prove the individual concerned is a fugitive economic offender.

Arup Roychowdhury and Indivijal Dhasmana
Source: