The Central government may soon bring in the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which proposes confiscation of assets of those who flee the country to evade prosecution or refuse to return, in cases involving more than ₹100 crore.

The proposed law assumes significance in view of the reports about major bank frauds.

A draft of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which is in consonance with similar legislation in several countries, was circulated in May last year seeking comments from all the stakeholders. The Bill was also cleared by the Union Law Ministry with certain recommendations on reconciliation of provisions with the existing laws.

The draft Bill followed an announcement in the Budget 2017-18 that the government planned to introduce a legal measure to facilitate confiscation of assets of the economic offenders who flee to foreign jurisdictions to escape the clutches of law.

The draft Bill defines 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.

Enforcement Directorate is empowered to initiate action and recover the money

As proposed, the Enforcement Directorate would be empowered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to initiate the proceedings. It also has a provision enabling repayment of dues to creditors by disposing of confiscated assets, in case the accused offender continues to evade prosecution.

As listed in the draft Bill’s schedule, it will be applicable to various financial and allied offences as defined under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, Customs Act, Companies Act, Limited Liability Partnership Act and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.