India recovered US $180 bn from economic offenders in 5 years: Union minister
The minister, who was briefing the media after the inaugural session of the G20 workshop, said the objective of the event is to collaborate with partner countries and agencies and develop a framework to curb corruption, and prevent people from siphoning off public money
The enforcement directorate has recovered an estimated 180 billion dollars in the past five years from economic offenders and fugitives, particularly after the Narendra Modi government passed the Economic Offenders Act in 2018, claimed Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions Dr Jitendra Singh on Wednesday.
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the G20 workshop on anti-corruption, which commenced in Gurugram on Wednesday.
Singh said the present government is pursuing economic offenders aggressively and all efforts are being made to ensure that no offender is able to game the system and benefit from corruption at the cost of the exchequer.
The minister, who was briefing the media after the inaugural session of the G20 workshop, said the objective of the event is to collaborate with partner countries and agencies and develop a framework to curb corruption, and prevent people from siphoning off public money.
“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 a sling of reforms such as direct benefits transfer, government marketplace portal, and other digital tolls have been put in place to curb corruption in the public sphere.
Delegates from G20 countries, 10 associate countries and nine organisations are participating in the anti-corruption workshop, which will conclude on March 3.
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Singh said partnerships are being forged between participating countries to ensure that fugitives are caught, and their ill-gotten wealth seized by the states, including India. “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,”nhe said.
The minister, in his inaugural address,said the corrupt find a way to park their proceeds of crime and the money is pushed into evil activities. “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.
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He also said despite initiating process to extradite economic offenders, the experience of the agencies has been that it is a complicated process and leads to 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 allow for an effective investigation and speedy trial for the related offence, he added.
“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 minister also said that India has put in place specialised legislation to check economic offenders, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, which has helped in curbing such corruption effectively.
Radha Chauhan, secretary, department of personnel and training, ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions was also present on the occasion.