Cross-Border Seizure of Fugitives’ Crypto Assets: Roadmap Taking Shape


During the G20 Summit under the presidency of its current president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced concerns about the misuse of darknet, cryptocurrency, and related technologies by terrorist groups. India called for an agreed standard for a cryptocurrency recovery mechanism to deal with assets of fugitives and economic offenders, however, the matter could not be taken to its logical conclusion due to some members’ pleas for more discussions on the matter.

Despite this, India can be credited for creating a consensus that paved the way to defining the building blocks of a risk-proof global regulatory framework of crypto assets. An Indian official reported that a lack of unanimity on some aspects of the crypto asset recovery mechanism had been observed during discussions, and that the issue will be debated in future working groups.

The European Commission has also expressed concerns about terrorist groups’ misuse of technologies such as darknet, metaverse, cryptocurrency, and related technologies to gather and park funds required for radicalisation. According to World Bank estimates, cyber attacks between 2019-2023 caused global losses of $5.2 trillion.

On the other hand, officials at the G20 have reported on progress made in cryptocurrency issues and have commissioned a paper to be prepared by the IMF-Financial Stability Board Synthesis Paper. The G20 Leaders will be taken on an agenda for action against fugitive economic offences and asset recovery, presented by Prime Minister Modi in 2018.

Highlighting the importance of identifying proceeds of criminal activity and tracking down assets as quickly as possible, Prime Minister Modi encouraged countries in their efforts to improve the domestic recovery mechanisms. He suggested that the G20 can be an example of how to recover foreign assets quickly by using confiscations based on non-convictions, and emphasized that it would send a strong signal about the joint fight against corruption.

As part of the Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG)’s discussion, it also developed a resource for accountability to document what nations have done in relation to principles previously negotiated. Indian representatives shared their outcomes and reported that significant progress had been made in anti-corruption collaboration, including the action taken against economic offenders who fled the country and the return of assets.

The government of India has recovered $1.8 billion in fugitives’ and economic offenders’ assets and attached illegal assets worth $12 billion under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) between 2014-2023. During its G20 presidency, the member nations agreed to set up an ACWG committee to formulate common parameters that would be acceptable to all nations while dealing with such fugitives and economic offenders. An official said that a set of rules would prevail regardless of whether the law in the country where the fugitive sought refuge is the same as the laws of the other countries. Even the EU has endorsed this approach, which was fine-tuned throughout India’s presidency of G20.

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