President approves ordinance to tackle fugitive businessmen

 

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, promulgated The Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 on Sunday. This ordinance sanctions attachment and confiscation of the properties of fugitive economic offenders. It is expected that this ordinance will help the government bring back economic offenders who have fled abroad.

Earlier, the Union Cabinet on Saturday approved a proposal to promulgate the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018, providing for seizing the properties and assets of economic offenders who run away from the country. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 was presented in the Lok Sabha on March 12; however, it wasn’t passed due to the logjam in Parliament.

The ordinance halts economic offenders from dodging the process of Indian Law by staying outside the jurisdiction of domestic courts. Authorities are formulating a special forum for an expeditious confiscation of the proceeds of crime. It is expected that this can make runaway offenders return to India to face the law. This ordinance empowers the authorities as not returning to India could mean substantial losses for declared offenders.

As the ordinance has been promulgated, it would assist banks and other financial institutions to attain higher recovery from such offenders. The ordinance makes it clear that only those cases where the total value involved in such offenses is Rs 100 crore or more will come under the scrutiny of courts.

In the wake of the loan fraud at state-run PNB by diamond merchants Nirav Modi and Mehul Choski, the government had given its nod to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018.

Authorities believe that the existing civil and criminal provisions were not adequate to deal with the severity of the problem of economic offenses.

Accordingly, the Union Cabinet had approved the ordinance in order to close voids in the present law. The ordinance has a provision for a court (“special court” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender.

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