(As on July 2, 2012)
Q.1. What is meant by contravention and compounding of contravention?
Ans. Contravention is a breach of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 and rules/ regulations/ notification/ orders/ directions/ circulars issued there under. Compounding refers to the process of voluntarily admitting the contravention, pleading guilty and seeking redressal. The Reserve Bank is empowered to compound any contraventions as defined under section 131 of FEMA, 1999 except the contravention under section 3(a)2 ibid, for a specified sum after offering an opportunity of personal hearing to the contravener. It is a voluntary process in which an individual or a corporate seeks compounding of an admitted contravention. It provides comfort to any person who contravenes any provisions of FEMA, 1999 [except section 3(a) of the Act] by minimizing transaction costs. Willful, malafide and fraudulent transactions are, however, viewed seriously, which will not be compounded by the Reserve Bank.
Q.2. Who can apply for compounding?
Ans. Any person who contravenes any provision of the FEMA, 1999 [except section 3(a)] or contravenes any rule, regulation, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under this Act or contravenes any condition subject to which an authorization is issued by the Reserve Bank, can apply for compounding to the Reserve Bank. Applications seeking compounding of contraventions under section 3(a) of FEMA, 1999 may be submitted to the Directorate of Enforcement.
Q.3 When should one apply for compounding?
Ans. When a person is made aware of the contravention of the provisions of FEMA, 1999 by the Reserve Bank or the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) or any other statutory authority or the auditors or by any other means, she/he may apply for compounding. One can also make an application for compounding, suo moto, on becoming aware of the contravention.
Q.4. What is the procedure for applying for compounding?
Ans. The form given as Annex – I to the A.P.(DIR Series) Circular No. 56 dated June 28, 2010 issued by the Reserve Bank of India, can be used for applying for compounding. The same can also be downloaded from the Reserve Bank’s website by clicking on the link i.e.http://www.rbi.org.in/Scripts/BS_ApCircularsDisplay.aspx.
Q.5. Are any fees required to be paid for seeking compounding?
Ans. Yes. The application in the prescribed format along with necessary documents and a demand draft for Rs. 5000/- (Rupees five thousand only) drawn in favour of the “Reserve Bank of India” should be sent to the Reserve Bank of India while sending the request for compounding.
Q.6. What are the details required to be filled in the application form?
Ans. Along with the application in the prescribed format, the applicant may also furnish the details as per the Annexes- relating to Foreign Direct Investment, External Commercial Borrowings, Overseas Direct Investment and Branch Office / Liaison Office, as applicable, (attached to the A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 57 dated December 13, 2011) along with an undertaking that they are not under investigation of any agency such as DOE, CBI, etc., a copy of the Memorandum of Association and latest audited balance sheet while applying for compounding of contraventions under FEMA, 1999.
Q.7. Where should one apply for compounding?
Ans. Regional Offices of the Reserve Bank of India mentioned below are authorised to compound the contraventions of FEMA involving (i) delay in reporting of inward remittance, (ii) delay in filing of form FC-GPR after allotment of shares and (iii) delay in issue of shares beyond 180 days (viz. paragraphs 9(1)(A), 9(1)(B) and 8, respectively, of the Schedule I to the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000, notified vide Notification No. FEMA 20/2000-RB dated 3rd May 2000 and as amended from time to time:
a) Paragraphs 9 (1) (A) and 9 (1) (B) of Schedule I to FEMA 20/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000 -
Bhopal, Bhubaneshwar, Chandigarh, Guwahati, Jaipur, Jammu, Kanpur, Kochi, Patna and Panaji for amount of contravention below Rupees One hundred lakh only (Rs.1,00,00,000 /-).
b) Paragraphs 9 (1) (A), 9 (1) (B) and 8 of Schedule I to FEMA 20/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000 -
Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi for amount of contravention without any limit.
Accordingly, all applications for compounding whether received on the advice of the Regional Office concerned or suo-moto, relating to the contraventions mentioned at (a) and (b) above may be submitted by the companies falling under the jurisdiction of the aforesaid Regional Offices directly to the Regional Office concerned, together with the prescribed fee and other relevant documents. All other applications may be submitted to the Compounding Authority, Cell for Effective implementation of FEMA (CEFA), Foreign Exchange Department, 5th floor, Amar Building, Sir P.M.Road, Fort, Mumbai-400001. The prescribed fee of Rs. 5000/- may be paid by way of a demand draft drawn in favour of "Reserve Bank of India" and payable at the Regional Office where the application is being submitted and at Mumbai if the application is submitted at CEFA, Mumbai.
Q.8. Can an application for compounding be sent to the Reserve Bank pending fulfillment of certain obligations?
Ans. No. All requisite approvals should be obtained and compliances should be completed before seeking compounding of contravention. Compounding can be done only after rectifying the records by way of obtaining post-facto approvals or unwinding the transactions in cases where such transactions are not permissible under FEMA, 1999. Copies of approvals and other compliances should be enclosed along with the application.
Q.9. What action is taken by the Reserve Bank on receipt of the application?
Ans. The Reserve Bank makes a scrutiny of the application to verify whether the required details and documents furnished by the applicant are prima-facie in order. Applications with incomplete details or where the contravention is not admitted will be returned to the applicant. On the admission of applications, the Reserve Bank will examine and decide if the contravention is technical, material or sensitive in nature. If technical, the applicant will be issued a cautionary advice. If the contravention is material, it will be compounded by imposing a penalty after giving an opportunity to the contravener to appear before the compounding authority for a personal hearing. If the contravention is sensitive in nature requiring further investigations, the same would be referred to the Directorate of Enforcement (DoE) for further investigation/ action.
Q.10. What are sensitive contraventions?
Ans. The contraventions, prima facie, involving money laundering, national and security concerns involving serious infringement of the regulatory framework, etc., are sensitive contraventions.
Q.11. Who should classify the contravention as technical, material or sensitive?
Ans. Whether contravention under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) is to be treated as technical and/ or minor or serious would be decided by the Reserve Bank on the merits of the case. The application will be disposed of keeping in view the procedure notified in this regard. Persons who have contravened the provisions of FEMA should not take upon themselves suo moto, or on the basis of external advice to decide whether a particular contravention is technical or minor in nature and, hence, no compounding application need be submitted to the Reserve Bank. If such applications for compounding are not made, the person concerned shall expose himself/herself to such action under the provisions of FEMA as the authorities may deem appropriate. The persons concerned should, therefore, in their own interest submit their applications for compounding of contravention under FEMA to the Reserve Bank at the earliest opportunity.
Q. 12. Is it mandatory to appear for the personal hearing?
Ans. It is not mandatory to attend the personal hearingIn case a person opts not to attend the personal hearing he may indicate his preference in writing. The application would be disposed of on the basis of documents submitted to the Compounding Authority.
Q.13. Can the applicant authorise another person to attend the personal hearing?
Ans. Yes, another person may be authorised by the applicant to attend the personal hearing on his behalf but only with proper written authority. It has to be ensured that the person appearing on behalf of the applicant is conversant with the nature of contravention and the related matters.
Q.14. How is the compounding process brought to the conclusion?
Ans. The Compounding Authority passes an order indicating details of the contravention and the provisions of FEMA, 1999 that have been contravened. The sum payable for compounding the contravention is indicated in the compounding order. The contravention is compounded by payment of the penalty imposed.
Q.15. When should the amount indicated in the order be paid?
Ans. The amount should be paid within 15 days from the date of the order by way of a demand draft drawn on "Reserve Bank of India" and payable at the Regional office which has issued the compounding order and at Mumbai if the order is issued by CEFA, Mumbai.
Q. 16. How does the application for compounding finally get disposed of?
Ans. On realization of the sum for which contravention is compounded, a certificate shall be issued by the Reserve Bank indicating that the applicant has complied with the order passed by the Compounding Authority.
There cannot be a second adjudication by any authority on the contravention compounded. In terms of FEMA, 1999, where a contravention has been compounded, no proceeding or further proceeding, as the case may be, can be initiated or continued, as the case may be, against the person committing such contravention under that section, in respect of the contravention compounded.
Q.17. What happens if the amount is not paid within 15 days of the order?
Ans. In case of non-payment of the amount indicated in the compounding order within 15 days of the order, it will be treated as if the applicant has not made any compounding application to the Reserve Bank and the other provisions of FEMA, 1999 regarding contraventions will apply. Such cases will be referred to the Directorate of Enforcement for necessary action.
Q.18. Can there be an appeal against the order of the Compounding Authority?
Ans. As compounding is based on voluntary admissions and disclosures, there cannot be an appeal against the order of the Compounding Authority.
Q.19. What is the timeframe for completing the compounding process?
Ans. The compounding process is normally completed within 180 days from the date of receipt of the application complete in all aspects, by the Reserve Bank.
Q.20. Where can one get more details about compounding?
Ans.. One can visit to Master circular on compounding available on Reserve Bank’s website at following link http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_ViewMasterCirculardetails.aspx