According to Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances, and pensions, the Enforcement Directorate has recouped roughly 180 billion dollars from fugitives and economic offenders over the past five years, particularly since the Narendra Modi government passed the Economic Offenders Act in 2018.
The minister was addressing outside the G20 anti-corruption session, which started on Wednesday in Gurugram.
According to Singh, the present government is pursuing economic criminals vigorously and is making every effort to ensure that no one is able to manipulate the system and profit from corruption at the expense of the exchequer, as reported by the Hindustan Times.
The goal of the workshop
The goal of the workshop, according to the minister who briefed the media following the G20 workshop's first session, is to work with partner nations and agencies to build a framework to combat corruption and prevent people from misappropriating public funds.
“In the past four to five years, the enforcement directorate has been able to recover 180 billion dollars from economic offenders after this government started pursuing these individuals seriously,” said Singh, adding that the total financial frauds committed by such offenders was estimated to be around 272 billion dollars.
The minister said that numerous reforms, including direct welfare transfers, a marketplace site for the government, and other digital tolls, have been implemented to reduce corruption in the public sector.
The anti-corruption workshop is being attended by representatives from the G20, ten associate nations, and nine organisations. It will end on March 3.
In order to ensure that fugitives are apprehended and their illicit income is taken by the states, including India, Singh claimed that alliances are being formed between participating nations.
The major problem
“A major problem faced by law enforcement agencies is that laws, rules and regulations are different in different countries, and there are also cultural differences. In such a scenario, the fugitives take advantage of loopholes and this exercise (workshop) is aimed to prevent them from taking advantage, and to bring them to book,” he said.
In his inauguration address, the minister claimed that corrupt people find a place to stash their stolen money before using it to fund horrendous acts.
“The amount that is duped is one of the major sources of terror funding. From illegal drugs that destroy young lives to human trafficking, from weakening democracies to sale of illegal arms, this dirty money funds many destructive enterprises,” he said.
“The enforcement directorate has transferred assets worth about USD 180 billion to public sector banks that suffered losses to the tune of around USD 272 billion due to frauds committed by high net worth individuals,” Singh said.
Need to reduce process delay
He added that although the process to extradite economic criminals has been started, the agencies' experience has shown that it is a difficult process that causes delays.
“It is our considered view that strengthening of mechanisms for speedy confiscation of proceeds of crime, both at home and abroad, will force the offenders to return to their home country,” he said.
This will enable a thorough investigation and a prompt trial for the associated offence, he continued.
“This would also help the banks and other financial institutions and tax authorities to achieve recovery from defaults committed by such offenders, thus restoring, to some extent, the overall health of these banks and other financial institutions, while eliminating the possibility of further misuse of these funds,” Singh said.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, which India put in place specifically to address economic criminals, has contributed significantly to effectively reducing corruption, the minister added.
Radha Chauhan, secretary, department of personnel and training, ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions was also present on the occasion.
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