Banks can issue lookout circulars against defaulters

NEW DELHI: In a bid to prevent big economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi from fleeing the country, the government has empowered PSU banks to request lookout circulars (LOCs) against willful defaulters and fraudsters, officials said here.

The Home Ministry has also authorized the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), a statutory corporate fraud investigation agency, to request LOCs if it feels the suspect may escape from India.

The ministry issued two circulars recently, authorizing chairman-cum-managing directors or chief executive officers of public sector banks and the SFIO to request designated authorities to issue LOCs against any willful defaulter or fraudster if they think the person may flee the country.

The CMDs and CEOs of PSU banks can now ask the Home Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs, Customs and Income Tax Departments, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, CBI, regional passport officers and police to issue an LOC to alert immigration check posts to stop anyone leaving India, a home ministry official said.

The SFIO and PSU banks can initiate the process if they suspect that the defaulter may leave the country to escape the law, the official said.

Earlier, investigating agencies would request LOCs in cognizable offences under the IPC or other laws in case the accused evaded arrest or did not appear before court despite issuance of non-bailable warrants and other coercive measures and there was a likelihood of the accused leaving the country to escape arrest.

An LOC is valid for a year unless its duration is specified. PTI

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