President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday night signed an ordinance that will allow the government to seize the domestic assets of those whom a competent court rules to be fugitive economic offenders, PTI reported. Earlier in the day, the Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to promulgate the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018.
“The ordinance would lay down the measures to empower Indian authorities to attach and confiscate proceeds of crime associated with economic offenders and the properties of the economic offenders, and thereby deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts,” a government press release said, according to The Hindu. Under the ordinance, a special court can be constituted under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002, to declare a person a fugitive economic offender.
The Centre said the ordinance would force fugitives to return to India, and help banks and other financial institutions recover higher amounts from defaulters. However, only such cases where the total value involved is over Rs 100 crore will be covered under the ordinance.
The ordinance also provides for the appointment of an administrator to manage and dispose of the property of the offenders. However, the proceedings under the Act proposed by the ordinance would be dropped once the fugitive returns to India, the Centre said.
Billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi fled the country in January after allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya has fled to the United Kingdom after allegedly cheating banks of Rs 9,000 crore.