India’s cabinet has given its nod to a draft law that allows the government to take over all assets of loan defaulters and financial offenders who flee the country to evade criminal prosecution in cases where total claims are more than Rs 100 crore.
The cabinet approved the draft of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a media briefing. The law, if passed in Parliament, will allow the confiscation of all the assets owned in India by the economic offenders. These will also include benami assets or those held by proxies.
The government’s move comes after a near Rs 12,700 crore fraud was unearthed at state-run Punjab National Bank where companies linked to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi allegedly obtained fraudulent credit guarantees to borrow short-term loans from foreign banks. Modi had left India before the crackdown began. The case is being equated with Vijay Mallya, the former chairman of defunct Kingfisher Airlines, who India wants extradited from the U.K. in a loan default case.
It will be accompanied with a list of scheduled offences, the finance minister said, and cover the cases where total claims are more than Rs 100 crore. The bill is meant to “provide measures to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law” by remaining outside the jurisdiction of the country’s courts.