The Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018 n FEO is defined by as any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
Provisions of Fugitive Economic Offender Act, 2018
- Fugitive economic offender (FEO): An FEO is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing any offence listed in the schedule, and the value of the offence is at least Rs 100 crore.
- The Act lists 55 economic offences in the Schedule, which include:
. counterfeiting government stamps or currency
. dishonouring cheques
. benami transactions
. transactions defrauding creditors
. tax evasion
- The authorities under the PMLA, 2002 will exercise powers given to them under the Act. These powers will be similar to those of a civil court, including:
. search of persons in possession of records or proceeds of crime
. search of premises on the belief that a person is an FEO
. seizure of documents
- The authorities appointed under the PMLA may file an application before a Special Court (designated under the PMLA) to declare a person an FEO. The application will contain:
. reasons to believe that an individual is an FEO
. information about his whereabouts
. list of benami properties, properties believed to be proceeds of a crime, or foreign properties for which confiscation is sought
. list of persons having an interest in these properties.
- If the person does not appear in person or through his counsel at the stipulated time, the Special Court will proceed with hearing the application. After hearing the application, the Special Court may declare the person an FEO.
- Upon declaration as an FEO, properties of a person may be confiscated and vested in the central government, free of encumbrances (rights and claims in the property). Further, the FEO or any company associated with him may be barred from filing or defending civil claims.
- Appeals against the orders of the Special Court will lie before the High Court. Such appeals can only be filed within 30 days of the order (extendable to 90 days if the High Court is satisfied with the reasons for delay).