Rs 18,000 crore have been returned to banks from economic offenders and fugitives Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the union government today told the Supreme Court. All three are declared as fugitive economic offenders (FEO) in India under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, which came into effect in August 2018.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta told the bench comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar that in money laundering cases relating to Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had confiscated approximately Rs 18,000 crore by the orders of the courts following due procedure. He further said that the ED was probing 4,700 cases as of now and only 313 people were arrested for the alleged offences since the enactment of the PMLA in 2002.
Mehta then said that during the last five years, that is 2016-21, 2,186 cases were taken up for investigation. “Out of 33 lakh predicate offences registered, ED has registered investigation only in 2,086 cases in five years. In five years, 33 lakh predicate offences are registered,” he said.
The solicitor-general said that corruption was a major generator of the proceeds of crime and money laundering. He said India was a part of a global anti-money laundering network and there were various conventions that required all member states to make their respective money laundering laws match one another.
Vijay Mallya was the first businessman to be declared a fugitive offender in India, followed by Nirav Modi.
The government has stepped up efforts to extradite high-profile economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi who laundered money and looted banks by not making repayments of their dues.
Vijay Mallya is wanted in India in an alleged Rs 9,000 crore money laundering case related to loans made to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airline. He is currently on bail in London while a confidential hearing related to his application seeking asylum in the country is being heard.
Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi is lodged behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in southwest London since his arrest in March 2019. He is also facing charges of fraud and money laundering in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam and is appealing against being extradited to India.
Nirav Modi’s uncle Mehul Choksi was involved in the PNB scam too. He fled India in 2018. He has been in Antigua and Barbados since then.