The thirteenth annual Group of Twenty (G20) conference took place last week in Buenos Aires, Argentina as global leaders descended onto the South American country to discuss various issues facing the world. G20 is an annual meeting of the world’s most important heads of state, including President Trump, Prime Minister May, President Putin, Prime Minister Modi, and many more. G20 is an opportunity for world leaders to foster alliances and show the world who they are friends with, and who they may be enemies with. This friendship was on display as Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman were captured on film comfortably and firmly shaking hands like they were old time friends. This exuberant encounter exemplified changing coalitions in the geopolitical world. However, Putin and the Saudi Prince were not the only ones greeting each other with smiles. Prime Minister Modi was photographed warmly standing beside two different global allies. The first was Modi with Putin and Xi Jinping, and the other was alongside Trump and Shinzō Abe. Harking back to the past days of Indian non-alignment, Modi was clearly out to make more friends than enemies at the G20 summit as he seeks to expand India’s global influence.
Prime Minister Modi came with a plan to G20, which he laid to his global audience. He presented his nine point plan to deal with fugitive economic offenders, an issue which India has been handling a lot recently. Modi presented this plan to the delegation during the second session of the summit on international trade, and finance and taxation. The plan called for “effective freezing and efficient reparation of the criminal proceeds and offenders”, and for strong and active cooperation to help tackle the issue. India also joined efforts by fellow G20 countries to fully implement the principles of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Another part of Modi’s nine point plan is his request for a task forces to be set up to deal with fugitive economic offenders, as well as “sharing experiences and best practices” for cases of extradition and gaps in the existing system of extradition. Modi called on Financial Action Task Force to “formulate a standard definition of fugitive economic offenders” and “to assign priority and focus to establishing international co-operation”. FATF was formed to combat threats to global financial systems. These threats can include money laundering or terrorist financing.
India has raised the issue of economic fugitives at G20 during the same time that two prominent stories regarding economic fugitives have emerged. India is looking to press charges of extradition on Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, both who are at the core of the PNB load fraud scheme. Due to recent events, the Indian government has enacted laws to prevent economic offenders from leaving India and fleeing to other countries. Choksi claims he is not returning to India due to a fear of a “lynch mob”, but the Indian government is searching for ways to press charges. Since this is an important issue to India as they struggle with convicting economic fugitives, they do not want other nations to make the same mistake.
Beyond the plan promoted by India, Modi has been working on the sidelines to help foster greater global relationships for India. Modi decided to ignore the global outcry against Mohammed bin Salman, and decided to meet privately with the king in his residence. The result of that meeting was Saudi Arabia’s offer to supply oil and petroleum to India as their energy demands grow. Modi also worked during the summit to bolster trilateral ties with Japan and the United Sates in the Indo-Pacific. Modi said “When you look at the acronym of our three countries — Japan, America, and India — it is ‘JAI’, which stands for success in Hindi.” Right after meeting with Japan and the US, Modi then joined China and Russia for their trilateral coalition of “RIC”. The three nations agreed on greater cooperation during international forums and global finance institutions. Some could argue that the unique position of India lends then to be able to make friends of all geopolitical alliances, as they are not yet dedicated to one more than another. While Modi’s economic fugitive plan is a step in the right direction, this alliance building is invaluable to India’s continuing international influence.
Additional news has come out regarding India and G20. Modi announced that India has been selected to be the host nation of the G20 Summit in 2022. The conference will coincide with the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence. India was initially selected to host in 2021, but requested to switch to 2022 to host during the independence anniversary. Modi was happy to announce that Italy, the initial country selected to host in 2022, had agreed to swap years with India.