Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, and Mehul Choksi have been summoned by special PMLA court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, failing which they would be declared fugitive economic offenders.
Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, and Mehul Choksi have been summoned by special PMLA court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, failing which they could be declared fugitive economic offenders. The three businessmen are accused of bank fraud, have fled the country and are evading prosecution.
Vijay Mallya has been summoned by the PMLA court to appear before it on August 27, while Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have been summoned on September 25 and 26 on the plea filed by Enforcement Directorate, which now has powers to confiscate their properties. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill has been tailor-made to deal with cases like these.
“The bill gives biting teeth to the authorities by allowing them to confiscate properties of offenders, otherwise were easily escaping the legal process in India. The bill also significantly eases the process of attachment and confiscation of property which has been a long-drawn process under the existing laws,” S Vasudevan, Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Attorneys told FE Online.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill was first tabled in the Budget session of the Parliament amid revelation of massive fraud at Punjab National Bank (PNB) allegedly by diamantaire Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. The bill could not be passed at the time as the session got washed-out due to disruptions. The bill was finally passed in the ongoing Monsoon session by both the houses of the Parliament.
Later on April 21, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal to promulgate Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018. The ED soon swung into action and filed a petition seeking fugitive economic offender tag for liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who fled the country March 2016 after defaulting on loans given to Kingfisher Airlines now amounting to Rs 9,000 crore.
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fled the country a few days before the PNB fraud was unearthed. The whereabouts have reportedly changed several times in the past even as their passports have been revoked. Mehul Choksi has recently claimed that he had taken the citizenship of Antigua last year for expanding his business, according to a local newspaper.
The existing laws did not help in deterring offences like these as the power of the court or authority was confined to the attachment of properties of the offender. However, the bill would create an added pressure and deterrence on the fugitive economic offender as all the properties belonging to the offender will automatically come under the ambit of the bill and the special court will have the power to direct confiscation of all such properties, Sandeep Grover, Partner at law firm IndusLaw explained.