CONTRAVENTIONS UNDER THE FEMA.

September 15, 2017

As the Indian economy had opened its economic barriers in front of the World for attracting Foreign investment to India and relaxed many of the stringent norms for related compliances under the Make In India scheme many of us are under the impression that the Foreign exchange can be brought into India without any formalities. Even though the Government is trying to cut down the bureaucratic involvement to the maximum extent possible, there are certain mandatory timelines and compliances to be observed while accepting foreign direct investment.  If the Indian Entity or the investor as the case may be is not adhering to the specified timelines and compliances , the same will be considered as an Offence under FEMA.

 

Compounding of Offences.
The provisions of section 15 of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (42 of 1999) hereinafter referred to as FEMA, 1999, permit compounding of contraventions and, as such it empowers the Reserve Bank to compound any contravention as defined under section 13 of the FEMA, 1999, except the contraventions under section 3 (a) of FEMA, 1999, on an application made by the person committing such contravention. Foreign Exchange (Compounding Proceedings) Rules, 2000 (the Rules), as amended from time to time, lays down the basic framework for the compounding process.


Delegation of Powers to Regional Offices
Compounding powers have been delegated to the Regional Offices of the Reserve Bank of India to compound the following contraventions of FEMA, 1999.

 

Authorisation to compound the contraventions by FED CO Cell, New Delhi

Compounding of the three divisions of Foreign Investment Division (FID) viz. Liaison/ Branch/ Project office(LO/ BO/ PO) division, Non Resident Foreign Account Division (NRFAD) and Immovable Property (IP) Division has been transferred to FED, CO Cell, New Delhi with effect from July 15, 2014. Accordingly the officers attached to the FED, CO, Cell at New Delhi office are now authorized to compound the contraventions as under:

The powers to compound the contraventions mentioned  above have been delegated to all Regional Offices (except Kochi and Panaji) and FED, CO Cell, New Delhi respectively without any limit on the amount of contravention. Kochi and Panaji Regional offices can compound the contraventions at paragraph 3 for amount of contravention below Rupees one hundred lakh (Rs.1,00,00,000/-). The contraventions of Rupees one hundred lakh (Rs.1,00,00,000/-) or more under the jurisdiction of Panaji and Kochi Regional Offices and all other contraventions of FEMA will continue to be compounded at Cell for Effective Implementation of FEMA (CEFA), Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai, as hitherto.


Accordingly, applications for compounding related to the above contraventions may be submitted to the respective Regional Offices under whose jurisdiction they fall or to FED, CO Cell, New Delhi, as applicable. For all other contraventions, applications may continue to be submitted to CEFA, Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, 5th floor, Amar Building, Sir P.M.Road, Fort, Mumbai 400001.

Application for Compounding

  1. All applications for compounding may be submitted together with the prescribed fee of Rs.5000/- by way of a demand draft drawn in favour of “Reserve Bank of India” and payable at the concerned Regional Office and by way of a demand draft drawn in favour of “Reserve Bank of India” and payable at Mumbai for cases submitted to the Compounding Authority, [Cell for Effective implementation of FEMA (CEFA)], Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai.

  2. The format of the application is appended to the Foreign Exchange (Compounding Proceedings) Rules, 2000

  3. Along with the application in the prescribed format, the applicant may also furnish the details as per Annex-II relating to Foreign Direct Investment, External Commercial Borrowings, Overseas Direct Investment and Branch Office / Liaison Office, as applicable, a copy of the Memorandum of Association and latest audited balance sheet along with an undertaking that they are not under investigation of any agency such as DOE, CBI, etc. as per Annex-III in order to complete the compounding process within the time frame.

  4. In case the application has to be returned where required approvals are not obtained from the authorities concerned or in case of incomplete application for any other reason, the application fees of Rs.5000/- received along with the application will be returned by crediting the same to the applicant’s account through NEFT as per the ECS mandate and details of their bank account as per Annex IV furnished along with the application. The Annexes relating to Foreign Direct Investment, External Commercial Borrowings, Overseas Direct Investment and Branch Office / Liaison Office, as given in A.P.(Dir Series) Circular No.57 dated December 13, 2011, have also been modified to include the details of income-tax PAN and the activity as per NIC codes – 1987 in terms of A.P.(Dir Series) Circular No.20 dated August 12, 2013. The application will be treated as incomplete without these details.

  5. The applicants are also advised to bring to the notice of the compounding authority change, if any, in the address/ contact details of the applicant during the pendency of the compounding application with Reserve Bank.

Pre-requisite for Compounding Process

  1. In respect of a contravention committed by any person within a period of three years from the date on which a similar contravention committed by him was compounded under the Compounding Rules, such contraventions would not be compounded and relevant provisions of the FEMA, 1999 shall apply. Any second or subsequent contravention committed after the expiry of a period of three years from the date on which the contravention was previously compounded shall be deemed to be a first contravention.'

  2. Contraventions relating to any transaction where proper approvals or permission from the Government or any statutory authority concerned, as the case may be, have not been obtained, such contraventions would not be compounded unless the required approvals are obtained from the concerned authorities.

  3. Cases of contravention, such as, those having a money laundering angle, national security concerns and/or involving serious infringements of the regulatory framework or where the contravener fails to pay the sum for which contravention was compounded within the specified period in terms of the compounding order, shall be referred to the Directorate of Enforcement for further investigation and necessary action under FEMA, 1999 or to the authority instituted for implementation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, or to any other agencies, for necessary action as deemed fit.

  4.   In this connection, it is clarified that whenever a contravention is identified by the Reserve Bank or brought to its notice by the entity involved in contravention by way of a reference other than through the prescribed application for compounding, the Bank will continue to decide.

a.    whether a contravention is technical and/or minor in nature and, as such, can be dealt with by way of an administrative/ cautionary advice;
b.    whether it is material and, hence, is required to be compounded for which the necessary compounding procedure has to be followed or
c.    whether the issues involved are sensitive / serious in nature and, therefore, need to be referred to the Directorate of Enforcement (DOE). However, once a compounding application is filed by the concerned entity suo moto, admitting the contravention, the same will not be considered as ‘technical’ or ‘minor’ in nature and the compounding process shall be initiated in terms of section 15 (1) of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 read with Rule 9 of Foreign Exchange (Compounding Proceedings) Rules, 2000.


Scope and procedure for compounding

  1. On receipt of the application for compounding, the Reserve Bank shall examine the application based on the documents and submissions made in the application and assess whether contravention is quantifiable and, if so, the amount of contravention.

  2. The Compounding Authority may call for any information, record or any other documents relevant to the compounding proceedings. In case the contravener fails to submit the additional information/documents called for within the specified period, the application for compounding will be liable for rejection.

  3. The following factors, which are only indicative, may be taken into consideration for the purpose of passing compounding order and adjudging the quantum of sum on payment of which contravention shall be compounded:

  • the amount of gain of unfair advantage, wherever quantifiable, made as a result of the contravention;

  • the amount of loss caused to any authority/ agency/ exchequer as a result of the contravention;

  • economic benefits accruing to the contravener from delayed compliance or compliance avoided;

  • the repetitive nature of the contravention, the track record and/or history of non-compliance of the contravener;

  • contravener’s conduct in undertaking the transaction and in disclosure of full facts in the application and submissions made during the personal hearing; and any other factor as considered relevant and appropriate.

As per provisions of section 13 of FEMA the amount imposed can be up to three times the amount involved in the contravention. However, the amount imposed is calculated based on guidance note given below. It may, however, be noted that the guidance note is meant only for the purpose of broadly indicating the basis on which the amount to be imposed is derived by the compounding authorities in Reserve Bank of India. The actual amount imposed may sometimes vary, depending on the circumstances of the case taking into account the factors indicated in the foregoing paragraph.

Issue of the Compounding Order

The Compounding Authority shall pass an order of compounding after affording an opportunity of being heard to all the concerned as expeditiously as possible as and not later than 180 days from the date of application on the basis of the averments made in the application as well as other documents and submissions made in this context by the contravener during the personal hearings.The time limit for this purpose would be reckoned from the date of receipt of the completed application for compounding by the Reserve Bank.If the applicant opts for appearing for the personal hearing, the Reserve Bank would encourage the applicant to appear directly for it rather than being represented / accompanied by legal experts / consultants, as compounding is only for admitted contraventions. Appearing for or opting out of personal hearing does not have any bearing whatsoever on the amount imposed in the compounding order. If the authorized representative of the applicant is unavailable for the personal hearing, the Compounding Authority may pass the order based on available information/ documents.The Compounding Order shall specify the provisions of the FEMA, 1999 or any rule, regulation, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under FEMA, 1999 in respect of which contravention has taken place along with details of the contravention.One copy of the compounding order issued under sub rule (2) of Rule 8 of Foreign Exchange (Compounding Proceedings) Rules, 2000 shall be supplied to the applicant (the contravener) and also to the Adjudicating Authority, where the compounding of any contravention is made after making of a complaint under sub-section (3) of section 16 of the FEMA, as the case may be.Payment of the amount for which contravention is compoundedThe sum for which the contravention is compounded as specified in the order of compounding shall be paid by way of demand draft in favour of the “Reserve Bank of India” within 15 days from the date of the order of compounding of such contravention. The manner in which the demand draft has to be drawn and deposited shall be indicated in the compounding order.The provisions of the Rules do not confer any right to the contravener, after a compounding order is passed, to seek to withdraw the order or to hold that the compounding order is void or request review of the order passed by the Compounding Authority.In case of failure to pay the sum compounded within the time specified in the compounding order and the Foreign Exchange (Compounding Proceedings) Rules, 2000, it shall be deemed that the contravener had never made an application for compounding of any contravention under these Rules. In respect of the contraventions of the FEMA, 1999 which are not compounded by the Compounding Authority, other relevant provisions of FEMA, 1999 dealing with contraventions shall apply accordingly.On realization of the sum for which contravention is compounded a certificate in this regard shall be issued by the Reserve Bank subject to the specified conditions, if any, in the order.

 

Bijoy P Pulipra

+999 544 9189

bijoy@artismc.com



 

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