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(Source: The Economic Times)

In a first, CBI brings back economic offender who had fled India 9 years ago

In a major victory for Indian government against fugitive economic offenders’, a CBI team recently flew to Bahrain and brought a fraudster back to India nine years after he fled from here.

Top sources in government and CBI claimed that the fugitive, Mohammad Yahya, 47, was traced and arrested by Bahrain authorities few months back on the basis of an Interpol red notice issued against him on India’s request.

Following the arrest, the government engaged at the highest levels with Bahrain convincing it to deport Yahya to India.

This is the first ever instance of India managing to bring an economic offender back since government stepped up its efforts to nail such fraudsters and passing of new law in August under which legal action can be taken in foreign countries as well.

Although Yahya’s loot wasn’t as big as others accused in big-ticket bank frauds like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Jatin Mehta, Nitin Sandesara and others, and is not even covered under fugitive economic offenders’ act, 2018 recently passed by the Parliament, the deportation shows government’s seriousness in extraditing and prosecuting all such persons who have fled even with “five rupees of public money”, said a senior government official.

Yahya, born in Bengaluru, had cheated a couple of banks of Rs 46 lakh in 2003. CBI began investigating the fraud in 2009 but Yahya had fled by then. After completion of probe, a chargesheet was filed against him and he was declared a proclaimed offender by a special CBI court.

The agency charged him for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, impersonation and forgery for taking a loan from public sector banks and “deliberately” not repaying it.

CBI refused to share more details about the banks cheated by him, his business and the purpose of loan.

Sources told TOI that after Bahrain police caught him a few months back, his identity was confirmed with the help of intelligence agencies and all relevant documents including chargesheet, evidence and witness testimonies were shared to convince Bahrain that he needs to be tried in India.

The government was directly involved in the whole process of Yahya’s deportation, people aware of the matter said.

He was brought to Delhi via an Air India flight on Friday morning and has been taken to Bengaluru for further interrogation.

Recently, the government had shared a list of 28 fugitive economic offenders including six women who were living abroad. The investigating agencies are already pursuing extradition of Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, who have fled with amounts ranging from Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 9,000 crore.

The properties of Nirav Modi have also been attached abroad recently.

Officials said there are many fraudsters like Mohammad Yahya, who have fled with smaller amounts like Rs 50 lakh to Rs 20 crore and remain out of focus due to big-ticket frauds, who cases also being diligently pursued by agencies.

(This article was originally published in The Times of India)

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