India's list of high-profile notorious businessmen/tycoons (fraudsters) who have illicitly fled the nation after duping the nation is getting longer and scarier as extradition cases remain in foreign courts, in anticipation of swift and impartial judgements for Indian agencies. This goes on even as new and bigger scams continue to surface, sabotaging the public's trust in the banking, regulatory and law enforcement system of the nation.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) which deals with money laundering and economic offences valued more than Rs.50 lakh recently disclosed that a whopping sum of Rs.19,668 crore has surfaced in three years alone. However, the refund that the investors have received from EOW is only Rs.2.5 crore from 74 investors.
The scams here mostly concern Ponzi schemes, where large sums of money are taken for non-existent made-up projects to lure. Ordinarily, the operator initially pays quite a large dividend to the investors to lure them into investing more. Those returns are paid through the money invested by others instead of the profit earned by the investor in question.
The 'Kingfisher King' fled the country and is currently hiding in London. The biggest case against him is how his Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on loans to the tune of Rs.9,000 crore from the banks in India. In 2016, a union of banks headed by the SBI approached the Supreme Court to stop Mallya from going abroad to avoid arrest. But, the complaint came a little too late because by then Mallya had already fled the nation. Even now, India is trying to extradite him from the UK.
Vijay Mallya diverted most of the Rs.90 billion he borrowed from an SBI-led union of lenders. The fraudster's trial began in a London Court last December. The trial is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya, who has been based in the UK since March 2016. The hearing is continuing and is expected to conclude in the next few months.
In 2013, a consortium of Indian Banks was hit when the Winsome group led by Jatin Mehta failed to repay. He allegedly duped banks of Rs.67.12 billion (Rs.6,712 crore) and was overtly and covertly helped by unknown sources of the government to flee the country. Three of Jatin's companies - Winsome Diamonds and Jewelry Limited, Forever Precious Jewelry and Diamonds Limited, and Su Raj Diamonds duped a consortium of banks led by Canara Bank and comprising of the Punjab National Bank.
The diamond baron had illegally acquired passport of St. Kitts, an island country in the West Indies, in November 2012 without renouncing his Indian citizenship and travelled to India on both passports. Jatin Mehta and his wife are now citizens of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis since India does not have an extradition treaty with the country.
The man who made cricket the most entertaining thing ever by giving Indians their biggest obsessions combined in one format i.e. the Indian Premier League. However, had to flee the country in 2010. Presently he is reported to be staying in London. The Enforcement Directorate has got a 'blue corner' Interpol notice against Modi for breaching the FEMA rules.
First, BCCI debarred him for life, holding him guilty of serious misconduct and indiscipline which included financial and administrative irregularities in IPL, fixing bids during the franchise auction in 2010. Apart from this, he was accused of selling media and internet rights without the permission of the BCCI.
Second, in March 2011, Modi's passport was revoked following a complaint by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED got a blue corner Interpol notice against Modi for breaching rules related to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) when he was the IPL chief. However, Modi did not appear for questioning and was further accused of obtaining properties outside India by misusing his influential position. But, without his passport, Modi was unable to travel outside the UK. He challenged the ED's decision in a London Court. However, he could not return to India without being arrested and questioned by the ED and the police. He has ever since been away from India and been avoiding arrest.
Another economic offender, Bhandari is known to be dealing with the arms trade. He fled the country after agencies started probing Delhi-based hawala cases in 2016 and were declared a proclaimed offender. Investigators found an entry of Rs.16 crore on behalf of his company and raided the premises. They found emails linking him with the then UPA President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, which were denied by Vadra's lawyers. Bhandari is involved in the purchase of trainer aircraft worth Rs.4,000 crore for the Indian Air Force.
Interpol, the world's largest police organisation, has issued a diffusion notice against Nirav Modi after bamboozling Punjab National Bank in fraud of more than 11,000 crore rupees. Modi managed to do this by procuring Letters of Undertakings from Punjab National Bank's Brady House branch in Mumbai. Modi used these LOUs to obtain loans in foreign exchange without paying any margin money, as is the standard procedure. When the Punjab National Bank filed a criminal complaint against Nirav Modi for engaging in fraudulent transactions on January 29, it was discovered that Nirav Modi had already left India sometime before to escape his arrest. Before the government agencies could take any serious action against him, he vanished out of sight. He is currently on the radar of both the Interpol and CBI who are busy tracking him down across the world.
NOTE: The writer of the article is a lawyer by profession.