Last Updated: September 07, 2023, 23:24 IST
As India makes a renewed push on the G20 forum to act against fugitive offenders, data reveals an almost fivefold jump in the number of such escapees brought back to India in the last 9 years. The Central Bureau of Investigation, during its commemoration of the International Day of Police Cooperation and Investiture ceremony, revealed that 19 fugitives have been brought back this year till September. In 2022 this number stood at 27 while in 2021 it was 18. Comparatively, CBI data suggests, on average four offenders could be brought back in the decade from 2004 to 2014. Minister of state for personnel Dr Jitendra Singh said this was a result of the Narendra Modi government’s concentrated push to bring back offenders.
“This is the direct result of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s strict policy of zero tolerance against corruption, both on the domestic and international front, ever since he took charge in May 2014. There has been a quantum jump in extradition of criminals and fugitives in recent years, especially after India hosted the 90th Interpol General Assembly in October 2022,” he said.
Officials told CNN-News18 that those who have been brought back to face the Indian law are mostly economic offenders but many are accused of heinous crimes like rape and murder too.
The Government of India feels that the increase in the return of criminals and fugitives to the country is the result of enhanced cooperation in policing between various countries that was streamlined after the 90th Interpol General Assembly hosted by India last year.
India, as per government data, has so far brought back $1.8 billion worth of assets that were allegedly syphoned off by economic fugitives, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Assets worth $12 billion have been attached since 2014, Dr Singh said.
Government functionaries said that India wants to push ahead with the issue of economic offenders and safe havens at the G20 summit too. The Prime Minister presented a 9-point agenda at the 2018 meeting, which was further discussed at this year’s Anti-Corruption Working Group in Gurugram, Kolkata, and Rishikesh.
1. Strong and active cooperation across G20 countries to deal comprehensively and efficiently with the menace of fugitive economic offenders.
2. Cooperation in the legal processes such as effective freezing of the proceeds of crime; early return of the offenders and efficient repatriation of the proceeds of crime should be enhanced and streamlined.
3. Joint effort by G20 countries to form a mechanism that denies entry and safe havens to all fugitive economic offenders.
4. Principles of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNOTC), especially related to “International Cooperation” should be fully and effectively implemented.
5. FATF should be called upon to assign priority and focus to establishing international cooperation that leads to timely and comprehensive exchange of information between the competent authorities and FIUs.
6. FATF should be tasked to formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders.
7. FATF should also develop a set of commonly agreed and standardised procedures related to identification, extradition and judicial proceedings for dealing with fugitive economic offenders to provide guidance and assistance to G20 countries, subject to their domestic law.
8. Common platform should be set up for sharing experiences and best practices including successful cases of extradition, gaps in existing systems of extradition and legal assistance, etc.
9. The G20 forum should consider initiating work on locating properties of economic offenders who have a tax debt in the country of their residence for its recovery.
Indian government officials said they were happy with the push that the issue has received ahead of the 2023 G20 summit too.
“There is forward movement in areas like action-oriented high-level principles on three priority areas, namely, law enforcement cooperation through information sharing, strengthening asset recovery mechanisms, and enhancing
the integrity and effectiveness of anti-corruption authorities,” the minister said.