After promulgating an ordinance to act against economic fugitives, the government has made a pitch at the G-20 for a global framework on the issue that may be modelled on the lines of the international fight against black money and help get high profile economic offenders to face the law, India’s sherpa at the forum of the world’s largest economies, Shaktikanta Das, raised the issue at a recent meeting in Argentina and pitched it as part of the fight against corruption, terror funding and black money, sources told TOI.

They added Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken up the issue of combating corruption and black money at multiple G-20 meets, starting with the Brisbane meeting in 2014. But with economic offenders ranging from Vijay Mallya to Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fleeing the country and taking refuge in other countries, the government has stepped up the fight.

In fact, when the Union Cabinet cleared the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill that arms the government with powers to attach the properties of those who have fled the country, finance minister Arun Jaitley had talked about the need for international cooperation but had said that it was an issue that will be worked out in due course.

Sources said that Das raised the issue of international cooperation for repatriation of fugitives but it will require greater engagement given that some of the countries have a liberal outlook and often give asylum to the fugitives who plead that they will not be given justice in India.

Often repatriation has been time consuming and a difficult process despite the government revoking the passports of the alleged offenders. “We need more discussion on the issue before some concrete steps are taken,” said an official, requesting anonymity.

The UK, which is a key member of G-20, has become a favourite destination for the fugitives and a global framework may work to India’s advantage. Sources said that the global fight on black money, which has necessitated the need for data sharing has proved to be a handy tool and brought about much-needed transparency in bank transactions, resulting in tax havens losing sheen.

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