New Delhi: In a major decision, the Union Cabinet on Thursday evening approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018.
“The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 has been brought to confiscation of assets of a fugitive, including Benami assets. There will also be the provision to confiscate those assets outside India but co-operation of that country will be needed,” Jaitley said.
Cabinet has approved establishment of National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA).
Jaitley said NFRA will act as an independent regulator for the the auditing profession which was one of the key changes brought in by the Companies Act, 2013.
"Jurisdiction of NFRA for investigation of Chartered Accountants & their firms under Section 132 of the Act would extend to listed companies & large unlisted public companies, the thresholds for which shall be provided in the Rules," the minister said.
The BJP led-government is trying to resurrect the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017, meant to take over the properties of absconding economic offenders, following the embarrassment it had to face after Nirav Modi left the country days before the alleged Rs 11,400-crore Punjab National Bank fraud came to light.
Graphics by: The Telegraph, Calcutta
It is, however, unclear whether the year-old bill will have a retrospective effect and apply in the case of Nirav Modi - the diamantaire accused of fraudulently obtaining letters of understanding from PNB - or liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is in the UK.
Top North Block officials said the bill, drafted a year ago after Mallya's sudden departure to the UK became an embarrassment to the government, was "now being fast-tracked".
Cleared in September by the law ministry, the bill will address cases of alleged absconders involved with sums of more than Rs 100 crore. The bill, which has not been placed before Parliament so far, envisages a special court to deal with such cases.
Alleged offenders such as Nirav Modi who have left the country will be declared "Fugitive Economic Offenders", according to the bill.
An explanatory note circulated with the bill states any person declared a "fugitive" will face two consequences.
The first consequence - "Any property owned by such a person in India shall stand confiscated and vested in the Government of India".
The second consequence states "further provision has been made for the appointment of an administrator to dispose of the property to satisfy creditors' demands".
(With additional information from The Telegraph, Calcutta and news agency ANI)