To tackle corruption, FATF considers binding rules on economic fugitives : The Tribune India

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To tackle corruption, FATF considers binding rules on economic fugitives

To tackle corruption, FATF considers binding rules on economic fugitives


Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, September 1

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is deliberating on a set of binding rules to bring fugitive economic offenders across countries to justice, top government sources said on Friday.

Global watchdog against laundering

The Financial Action Task Force is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. It sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.

The deliberations of which India and Indian investigation agencies, so also other G20 countries, are a part, stem from the 2018 initiative India took to bring the issue of grave offences by fugitive economic offenders to the discussion table.

India remains particularly vulnerable to economic offences. Since 2018, courts here have declared 10 fugitive economic offenders, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who, having taken refuge abroad, continue to evade extradition on account of legal issues. Sources said under the ongoing Indian G20 presidency, significant progress had been made on this aspect of anti-corruption by way of negotiated principles to which all G20 partners have agreed.

10 declared offenders since 2018

Since 2018, Indian courts have declared 10 fugitive economic offenders, including liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who, having taken refuge abroad, continue to evade extradition on account of legal issues.

“We have finalised action-oriented highest-level commitments towards tackling corruption offences, strengthening domestic anti-corruption institutional frameworks, extradition of fugitive economic offenders and recovery of assets of such offenders from foreign jurisdictions,” top government sources said today.

These commitments include three high-level principles for combating corruption —strengthening law enforcement related international cooperation and information sharing, strengthening asset recovery mechanisms and promoting integrity and effectiveness of public bodies responsible for preventing corruption.

These commitments revolve around informal agreements between countries to locate properties of economic offenders who have a tax debt in the country of their residence for its recovery and non-conviction based confiscation of these properties. “What makes recoveries difficult is a varied set of laws across nations where offenders escape and hide assets. The FATF is now deliberating on common anti-corruption parameters which can be operable across countries regardless of variations in their domestic laws. FATF rules, once they are adopted, will be binding. The matter is under discussion,” official sources said. G20 commitments are non-binding.

India, which initiated the discussion on economic offenders, has spoken of its own efforts to address the rot, especially by way of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, which allows the property of fugitive economic offenders with offences involving Rs 100 crore or more to be attached.

Since 2018, assets worth over 1.8 billion USD from economic offenders and fugitives have been recovered, government data shows. Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, India has attached assets worth more than 12 billion USD since 2014. The sources say India is now pushing for the FATF to formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders, develop a set of commonly agreed upon and standardised procedures related to identification, extradition and judicial proceedings for dealing with fugitive economic offenders to provide guidance and assistance to G20 countries, subject to their domestic law, and set up a common platform for sharing experiences and best practices.

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