India has asked foreign nations to act expeditiously on Letters Rogatory (LRs) pending with them to help it resolve some “high ticket and high profile corruption cases”. Federal investigating agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have issued LRs to various countries, including to the UK and others in connection with alleged money laundering and Rs 9,000 crore bank loan fraud cases against former liquor baron Vijay Mallya. The issues of LRs, which act as judicial requests to seek information from a foreign country regarding a probe in criminal cases against an Indian, and black money were raised recently by Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chowdary in Vienna, Austria.
“India has issued a number of Letters Rogatory for execution and has requested for information under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. India would encourage the member states to expedite their response to the requests. “We are hopeful that a positive and constructive approach will help us resolve some of the high ticket and high profile corruption cases and will help strengthen the multilateral redressal mechanism,” he said at the UN sponsored meeting on tackling corruption last week.
Referring to black money, Chowdary said India would support automatic exchange of beneficial ownership and tax related information. He called upon more countries to join and maximize transparency besides exploring ways of sharing information across borders. “We are also committed on the issue of return of unaccounted wealth from safe havens and for persistent and consistent efforts on asset recovery,” said Chowdary, who has been chief of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
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He also highlighted various measures being taken by the Indian government to deal with corruption. “India is fully committed to tackle corruption and adopts a ‘zero tolerance’ approach as well as minimum government and maximum governance,” Chowdary said in the country statement presented during the eighth session of the Implementation Review Group of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) last week.
The CVC also highlighted demonetisation, performance review of government employees to check allegedly corrupt and non performers and Aadhaar-linked Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme as some prominent steps taken by the central government. “Demonetisation of high value currency, a bold step to eliminate black money and corruption. It had an overwhelming support of the citizens of the country and was successfully implemented.
“It enhanced digital transactions, i.e., cashless payments, for more effective control,” the CVC said during the conference attended by representatives of a large number of foreign nations. Giving details of the performance assessment of bureaucrats, he said over 125 senior public servants were retired prematurely from service. India has recognised the need for effectively fighting corruption and has a robust and time tested institutional and legislative framework, including the Prevention of Corruption Act an independent Central Vigilance Commission, Central Information Commission and Comptroller and Auditor General, Chowdary said.