The government has set up a committee to look for pointers that raise flags such that economic offenders can be preempted from leaving the country after defaulting.
The move came amid apprehensions that promoters are currently able to flee the country immediately after defaulting, as the process of declaring them criminals takes time.
A high-level panel headed by financial services secretary Rajiv Kumar will overhaul existing laws to prevent defaulting promoters like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya, from leaving the country without facing the consequences of their actions. The panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, sources told PTI.
The discussions revolved around
- Dual-citizenship (of some of the defaulters) and strengthening and streamlining of systems. In some countries, citizenship can be easily obtained. The defaulters take advantage of this and settle down there after committing fraud in India.
- If there are adverse reports from intelligence agencies or even banks, the government may ask for travel details. Such promoters will only be barred from traveling or their passports will be suspended if there is specific information that they could become fugitives from justice. Banks have already sought the passport details of large borrowers to curb such risk.
- The panel comprises senior officials of the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence Bureau, Reserve Bank of India and ministries of home and external affairs.
The finance ministry asked the public sector banks to collect passport details of those who have loans above Rs 50 crore, after the $2 billion fraud case at the Punjab National Bank involving jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi came to light. Both Nirav Modi and Choksi had already fled India by then. Vijay Mallya fled the country in March 2016 after defaulting on loans given to Kingfisher Airlines.