Current Affairs Today - Current Affairs 2017

हिंदी करंट अफेयर्स प्रश्नोत्तरी 2017 के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें.

Law Ministry approves Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017

The Union Law ministry has approved Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017 to empower government to confiscate property of economic offenders and defaulters who flee India.

The Bill seeks to deter economic offenders from evading the process of Indian law by fleeing the country. It was drafted in pursuance of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s 2017-18 Budget speech promising legislative changes or even new law to confiscate the assets of such fugitives. The Finance Ministry had prepared the draft Cabinet note on the bill and sought the law ministry’s opinion on it.

Features of Bill

It defines fugitive economic offender as any individual against whom warrant for arrest in relation to economic offence has been issued and person has left the country and refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.  The burden of proof for establishing that an individual is fugitive economic offender will be on authorities.

The proposed bill will be applicable in cases where the value of offences is over Rs 100 crore. It will allow Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the premier technical snoop wing under the finance ministry, to file an application for declaration of fugitive economic offender for confiscation of their assets.

The bill entrusts responsibility to try such cases to the courts under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). The bill has provision for appointment of an administrator to dispose off property of fugitive offfender to pay off the creditors. Besides, it has provisions to override provisions of other existing laws.

Law Ministry Suggestions

It wants Saving Clause to be incorporated in the Bill before it is introduced in Parliament. Saving clause provides for certain exception(s) in a statute. It enables repealed law to be in force with respect to some existing rights as provisions of the proposed bill has  bearing on the provisions of existing laws.

The existing laws under which such fugitive economic offender are tried include Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDDBFI), Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, (SARFESI) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

Need for such Law

In the recent past, there have been instances of big-time offenders, including economic offenders, fleeing the country to escape reach of jurisdiction of Indian courts. Most recently, Vijay Mallya, chief of terstwhile Kingfisher Airlines who owes over Rs 9,000 crore to various Indian banks, had fled India to escape legal proceedings in connection with the loans. Such cases have several deleterious consequences as it hampers investigation in criminal cases, wastes precious time of courts of law and undermines the rule of law of the country.

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SEBI allows REITs, InvITs to raise funds via debt securities

Capital markets regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) amended guidelines of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits) and Infrastructure Investments Trusts (InvITs) in order to broaden scope of fund raising by such instruments.

Amended Guidelines

It allows REITs and InvITs to raise capital by issuing debt securities. REITs now require to have 50% stake in holding company marginally less from earlier limit of 51%. Like InvITs, REITs are now allowed to invest in single assets and can also lend to an underlying holding company. ​REITs have been allowed to lend to an underlying holding company or a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits)

Reits are investment vehicles that can be used by real estate players to attract private investment, while investors (both retail and institutional) can gain dividends generated from income-producing real estate assets like office buildings, shopping malls, etc. They are similar to mutual funds which provide opportunity to invest in equity stocks, whereas REITs allow one to invest in income-generating real estate assets.

In REITs, most of the earnings via sale / rent of such investments are distributed to its shareholders. Its purpose is to improve the liquidity position of Real Estate developers and give a secure avenue to investors to invest in long term. REITs are only for completed projects not the under-construction projects. They are primarily for commercial projects and mainly serve as an alternative investment.

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