AMNESTY International India’s Headuarters Raided by ED For FCRA Violation

RIGHTS activities have slammed The Enforcement Directorate (ED) for conducting searches at two locations in connection with a case related to foreign exchange contravention case against human rights watchdog Amnesty International India’s headquarters at Bengaluru. Officials said the searches were conducted under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the central probe agency is looking for documents. The ED under the Union Finance Ministry was looking at a possible and alleged violation of the FEMA linked to an earlier Union home ministry’s probe into the NGO’s accounts related to Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) funds. The ED   has frozen over a dozen bank accounts of environmental NGO Greenpeace and its linked entity after it conducted searches at their premises in Bengaluru on charges of alleged forex violations. Defending the action, the ED said in a statement the Amnesty International India resorted to bypass the FCRA Act after they were denied the permission from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs .They launched a floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd which has received Rs. 36 crore in foreign funds, ED said .In August 2016, the home ministry had ordered what it called a “preliminary exercise” to find out whether Amnesty had the necessary approvals. The order came days after anti-India slogans were allegedly raised during a discussion on Kashmir that it hosted. A sedition case was also filed against Amnesty India following a complaint the ABVP, a student body affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP. Amnesty had denied both accusations. The raids at office of the human rights organization was conducted two weeks after it searched the Bengaluru offices of another non-profit, global environmental NGO Greenpeace, and other establishments associated with it and froze accounts. Investigators suspect the environmental organization is illegally receiving foreign funding, charges that have been denied by Greenpeace.In August, investigators started looking into an issue related to the FCRA unit’s suspicion that Amnesty International-UK and other some entities based in the UK have instilled funds into Amnesty’s India through commercial channels, in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act or FEMA rules. The Hindu reported. The amount involved is over Rs. 36 crore and were received between May 2014 and August 2016, The Hindu reported.The Enforcement Directorate, in a statement, had said, “After Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) was denied the permission/registration under FCRA by the MHA (ministry of home affairs) they resorted to bypass the FCRA by floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL).”This entity has received foreign funds through commercial route to the extent of Rs. 36 crore till date,” it had said.Of the total amount of Rs. 36 crore, it said, Rs. 10 crore was received as long-term loans.”This amount was immediately placed in FDs (fixed deposits) and another Indian entity Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) had established an overdraft facility for Rs. 14.25 crore keeping the said Rs. 10 crore FD as collateral which means the receipt of FDI by trust only.””The remaining Rs. 26 crore was received in two other bank accounts of AIIPL as consultancy services. The inwards remittances received by the AIIPL from overseas is in violation of FDI guidelines,” it had said.In this background, searches were conducted at Amnesty International Bengaluru office of the NGO and further probe is in progress, it had said.(inputs from NDTV)

 

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