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At G20, Nirmala Sitharaman questions citizenship to offenders

FM calls for attention to economic fugitives who abuse investment schemes

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At G20, Nirmala Sitharaman questions citizenship to offenders
Nirmala Sitharaman (left) and Mehul Choksi
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In a strong message to countries that provide citizenship to fugitive economic offenders through investment-based schemes, India's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has called attention to the need to deal with such practices.

Speaking at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' meeting in Fukuoka, Japan over the weekend, she underscored the importance of international cooperation when it comes to dealing with economic offenders who "flee their countries to escape the consequences of law".

A Finance Ministry statement read, "The FM drew attention to the practice permitted by many jurisdictions, which allow economic offenders to use investment-based schemes to obtain residence or citizenship to escape from legal consequences and underlined the need to deal with such practices," adding, "She urged that closer collaboration and coordinated action were required to bring such economic offenders to face the law."

G20 SHOWDOWN

  • She underscored the importance of international cooperation when it comes to dealing with economic offenders
     
  • Drew attention to the practice of allowing economic offenders to use investment-based schemes to obtain residence or citizenship
     
  • The mention was to draw attention to the case of Mehul Choksi, wanted in the multi-crore PNB scam, who became a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda

The finance minister also highlighted how India has taken a tough stance against economic offenders and passed a law that "provides for denial of access to courts until the fugitive returns to the country."

The mention was to draw attention to the case of Mehul Choksi, wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank scam who surrendered his Indian passport to become a citizen of the Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda under its Citizenship by Investment (CIP) scheme.

According to the scheme, foreign clients can get citizenship by investing anything upward of $100,000 in the country. With it, the person can draw several benefits as the country's passport can avail visa-free travel to over 100 plus countries including the EU and UK. The Citizenship By Investment Unit of Antigua received Choksi's application in May 2017 and in January, 2018, Choksi surrendered his Indian passport to the High Commission in Guyana. India is currently pursuing Choksi's return with the government of Antigua.

— Zee Media Newsroom

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