India has called upon G20 countries to adopt multilateral action for faster extradition of fugitive economic offenders and recovery of assets both on domestic front as well as from abroad, during the first anti-corruption working group meeting held in Gurugram, on the outskirts of Delhi.
Chairing the meet with co-chair Italy, Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh said, “Economic offences have been a problem faced by many, especially when the offenders flee from the jurisdiction of the country. India has put in place specialised legislation in this regard, in the form of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, the term wherein ‘fugitive economic offender’ (FEO) is defined as an individual against whom a warrant of arrest in relation to scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India and who has left the country so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or the FEO abroad, refuses to return to face criminal prosecution”.
Mr. Singh said the Enforcement Directorate has transferred assets worth about $180 billion to public sector banks that suffered losses to the tune of around $272 billion due to frauds committed by high-net-worth individuals.
Mr. Singh informed the G20 delegates, India’s view is that strengthening of mechanisms for speedy confiscation of the proceeds of crime, both at home and abroad, will force the offenders to return to their home country. He added that this will allow for an effective investigation and speedy trial for the related offence and this would also help the banks and other financial institutions and tax authorities to achieve recovery from defaults committed by such FEOs, thus restoring, to some extent, the overall health of these banks and other financial institutions, while eliminating the possibility of further misuse of these funds.
Mr. Singh said, as the primary forum for global economic cooperation, the G20 has to take responsibility to lead global efforts towards battling the menace of corruption.