India presented a nine-point agenda to G20 countries on Friday, calling for “strong and active cooperation” among them to comprehensively deal with fugitive economic offenders.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented the agenda in the second session of the G20 Summit on international trade, international financial and tax systems here on Friday.
“Cooperation in legal processes such as effective freezing of the proceeds of crime, early return of the offenders and efficient repatriation of the proceeds of crime should be enhanced and streamlined,” the agenda read.
India also called for joint efforts by G-20 countries to form a mechanism that denies entry and safe havens to fugitive economic offenders.
“Principles of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNOTC), especially related to ‘International Cooperation’ should be fully and effectively implemented,” it said.
India suggested that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should be called upon to assign priority and focus to establishing international cooperation that leads to timely and comprehensive exchange of information between the competent authorities and financial intelligence units.
“FATF should be tasked to formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders. FATF should also develop a set of commonly agreed and standardized procedures related to identification, extradition and judicial proceedings for dealing with fugitive economic offenders to provide guidance and assistance to G-20 countries, subject to their domestic law,” it said.
The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system
India also advocated setting up of a common platform for sharing experiences and best practices including successful cases of extradition, gaps in existing systems of extradition and legal assistance, etc.
It said the G-20 forum should consider initiating work on locating properties of economic offenders who have a tax debt in the country of their residence for its recovery.
Earlier, in August this year President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, that will deter offenders to evade legal process in India and flee the country. A fugitive economic offender is any individual against whom warrants for arrest is issued for his involvement in select economic offences involving amount of at least ₹ 100 crore and has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, allows designated special court to declare a person as fugitive economic offender and to confiscate his property, including ‘benami’ ones.
“All the rights and title in the confiscated property shall, from the date of the confiscation order, vest in the central government, free from all encumbrances,” the Act says.
Justifying the financial limit of ₹ 100 crore for invoking the provisions of this new law, finance minister Piyush Goyal had recently said in Parliament that it was being done to “catch the big offenders and not to clog the courts”.