Unearthing dubious involvement foreign funding, ED raids Amnesty International’s regional office in Bengaluru

New Delhi: During the past two years, the government has been cracking down on non – profit organizations by implying stringent law regulating money received by the non-profit organizations from abroad. In this perspective the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the Bengaluru office of Amnesty International after the human rights organization came under the scanner of investigation agencies for possible violation of rules involving foreign funding.

Amnesty’s Indian base came under the scanner for alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) after security agencies is learnt to have detected that Amnesty International (UK) has been remitting huge amount of foreign contribution through its four Indian entities, which did not have either license or prior permission to receive foreign contributions.

In a statement, the Enforcement Directorate said the Amnesty International India resorted to evade the FCRA Act after they were denied the permission from the home ministry. They set up a floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd, which has received Rs. 36 crore in foreign funds.

The investigation by ED said that the Indian entities for Amnesty International have received funds for three purposes, namely (i) service contract, (ii) advance income and (iii) FDI through automatic route, which are mainly used by commercial entities. Of the total Rs. 36 Crore foreign funds received, Rs. 10 Crore was remitted as FDI, Rs. 26 Crore as payment for consultancy services (of which Rs. 3.5 Crore was shown as advance income during 2016-17).

The raids at office of the human rights organization, which began at 2 pm, comes two weeks after it conducted searches in 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 2016, the home ministry had ordered what it called a “preliminary exercise” to find out whether Amnesty had the necessary approvals. 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 amount involved is over Rs. 36 crore and were received between May 2014 and August 2016.

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