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Lok Sabha passes Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill

By Vikas

New Delhi, July 19: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, which is aimed at strengthening the laws dealing with loan defaulters who flee the country.

The bill will replace the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance which was promulgated by the President in April.

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Finance Minister Piyush Goyal had on Wednesday introduced the bill in Lok Sabha. The bill has been brought in to help the government in confiscating properties of economic offenders who have absconded the country to avoid prosecution.

"Fugitive Economic Offenders ordinance is the need of the hour.Cases where the total value involved in such offences is Rs.100 crore or more, will come under its purview. Till 2014 nothing was done on this front," Goyal said in Lok Sabha.

The ordinance makes provisions for a court ('Special Court' under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a 'Fugitive Economic Offender.' A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.

The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was cleared by thye Union Cabinet in March. The move came in the wake of several alleged economic offenders like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya fleeing the country to avoid trial and prosecution.

What the bill states:

The Bill states that the properties of those fleeing the country will be confiscated in cases involving more than Rs 100 crore. A draft of the Bill was circulated in May last year seeking comments from all stakeholders. The Bill was cleared by the Law Ministry with recommendations on reconciliation of provisions with the existing laws. The move came following the Vijay Mallya incident. Mallya who owes banks more than Rs 9,000 crore had fled the country. The Bill also goes on to define a fugitive economic offender as an individual against whom an arrest warrant has been issued and who has either left the country or refuses to come back to face prosecution.

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