In one of a slew of steps to prevent bank fraud in India, the government has proposed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018, to deal with the menace of fugitive economic offenders who have left India to avoid criminal prosecution and who refuse to return to India to face criminal prosecution in respect of scheduled offences as set out in the bill. The bill includes measures to confiscate property of fugitive economic offenders and proceeds of crime.
An application can be filed by a “director” appointed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), or any person authorized by such a director (who is not below the rank of deputy director) before the special court constituted under the PMLA for declaration of an individual who has committed a scheduled economic offence, as defined under the bill, of more than ₹1 billion (US$15 million), as a fugitive economic offender.
The bill enables the director to attach property with the permission of the special court, whether located in India or abroad, of the fugitive economic offender and property which is believed to be the proceeds of crime of the offender. Such a director is also authorized to attach such property before filing an application before the special court but an application must be filed within 30 days of such attachment. The director will have the power to survey and make searches and seizures as well. The property so attached will continue to be attached for a period of 180 days from the date of the order of attachment or any other period as may be extended by the special court. The attachment however will not impact the rights to enjoy an immovable property attached by any person claiming or entitled to claim any interest in the property.
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