Extradition of Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEOs)

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    Context

    • India has called upon G20 countries to adopt multilateral action for faster extradition of fugitive economic offenders and recovery of assets.

    More about the news

    • Anti-corruption working group meeting: 
      • First anti-corruption working group meeting of G20 Nations was held in Gurugram, Delhi.
      • Wherein India has called upon G20 countries to adopt multilateral action for faster extradition of fugitive economic offenders and recovery of assets both on domestic front as well as from abroad.
    • Significance:
      • Economic offences have been a problem faced by many, especially when the offenders flee from the jurisdiction of the country. 
      • Speedy and effective procedure:
        • India’s view is that strengthening of mechanisms for speedy confiscation of the proceeds of crime, both at home and abroad, will force the offenders to return to their home country
          • This will allow for an effective investigation and speedy trial for the related offence 
      • Help to banks and other financial institutions:
        • This would also help the banks and other financial institutions and tax authorities to achieve recovery from defaults committed by such FEOs. 
          • Thus it will help restoring, to some extent, the overall health of these banks and other financial institutions, while eliminating the possibility of further misuse of these funds.

    India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

    • India has put in place specialized legislation in the form of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
    • Definition of FEO:
      • The ‘fugitive economic offender’ (FEO) is defined as an individual against whom a warrant of arrest in relation to scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India and who has left the country so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or the FEO abroad, refuses to return to face criminal prosecution. 
    • Aim:
      • The Act aims to help confiscate assets of high-value economic offenders absconding from India till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.
    • Procedure to be followed: 
      • The investigating agencies have to file an application in a Special Court under the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act containing details of the properties to be confiscated, and any information about the person’s whereabouts.
      • The Special Court will issue a notice for the person to appear at a specified place and date at least six weeks from the issue of notice.
        • If the person appears:
          • Proceedings will be terminated if the person appears
        • If the person does not appear:
          • If not the person would be declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence filed by the investigating agencies.
      • The person who is declared as a Fugitive Economic Offender can challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of such declaration according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
    • Role of Enforcement Directorate:
      • The Enforcement Directorate is mandated to attach the properties of the fugitive economic offenders who have escaped from India warranting arrest and provide for the confiscation of their properties to the Central Government.

    About G20

    • Origin:
      • The G20 was formed in 1999 in the backdrop of the financial crisis of the late 1990s that hit East Asia and Southeast Asia in particular. 
      • Its aim was to secure global financial stability by involving middle-income countries. 
      • As stated by the official G20 Website: 
        • “On the advice of the G7 Finance Ministers, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors began holding meetings to discuss the response to the global financial crisis that occurred,” 
    • Objectives:
      • Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth;
      • To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; and
      • To create a new international financial architecture.
    • Members & guests: 
      • Members: 
        • Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. 
        • Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.
      • Others: 
        • Each year, the Presidency invites guest countries, which take full part in the G20 exercise. Several international and regional organizations also participate, granting the forum an even broader representation. 

    • Together, the G20 countries include: 
      • 60 percent of the world’s population, 
      • 80 percent of global GDP, and 
      • 75 percent of global trade.
    • Presidency of G20 & Troika:
      • The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among members.
      • The country holding the presidency, together with the previous and next presidency-holder, forms the ‘Troika’ to ensure continuity of the G20 agenda.