A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation carried out searches at four locations of human rights group Amnesty India’s offices in Bengaluru and Delhi, the agency alleged the NGO received foreign contributions to the tune of Rs 36 crore from Amnesty International United Kingdom through the Amnesty International India Private Limited (AIIPL).
A senior CBI source related to the development told IANS, “Indians For Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT), Amnesty International South Asia Foundation (AISAF) received foreign contributions amounting to Rs 36 crore from Amnesty International U.K. through Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd.”
The source said Amnesty India used commercial methods in order to illegally circumvent the provisions of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that they were obliged to observe.
The source said the Ministry of Home Affairs in its order had said that in order to evade FCRA, Amnesty (UK) remitted Rs 10 crore to Amnesty’s India entities classified as FDI, without its approval.
He also said that another Rs 26 crore was remitted to Amnesty (India) primarily from UK-based entities without MHA’s approval.
He said Amnesty (India) received funds for three purposes — service contract, advance income and FDI through an automatic route which are mainly used by commercial entities.
“Of the total Rs, 36 crores of 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 in 2016-17. Amnesty International (U.K.) invested Rs 10 crore in Amnesty International India on September 24, 2015, and this was classified as compulsory convertible debentures (CCD) and shown in the balance sheet and IT returns as long term borrowings. This amount was immediately placed in FDs,” the source said.
The disclosure by the Central probe agency comes a day after it raided the offices of Amnesty India in Delhi and Bengaluru after it filed a case of FCRA violation on the complaint of Ministry of Home Affairs.
The CBI has registered a case against the Amnesty entities and others on November 5.
The source said during the inspection of books of accounts of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd, Bengaluru by the MHA revealed that the “company allegedly indulged in activities that were not commensurate with the activities of a for-profit company” but “constituted activities” that are either prohibited or regulated under FCRA.
He said, the MHA complaint also mentioned that the interim report prepared by Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Amnesty intimated that the Civil Society Work (charitable activities) are being carried out by Amnesty International (India) “on huge profit on commercial lines and he funds for these activities are obtained in the garb of remittances against export of services”.
On Friday, a CBI official said it was alleged that the provision of the FCRA 2010 and Indian Penal Code were contravened by Amnesty entities by receiving foreign contributions from Amnesty International UK through the AIIPL even though prior registration or permissions were denied to the AIIFT and other trusts under the FCRA.
All the funds received by the Amnesty entities were without the MHA’s approval.
Following the CBI searches at its offices, the human rights group in a statement said, “The CBI on Friday conducted searches at the offices of Amnesty International India Private Limited and Indians for Amnesty International Trust in Bengaluru and New Delhi.”
The international human rights campaigner said over the past year, it had been witnessing a pattern of harassment every time the NGO stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India.
“Amnesty India stands in full compliance with Indian and international law. Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights,” Amnesty India said.
The organisation said it works to uphold values such as pluralism, tolerance and dissent, guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
According to Amnesty, as many as four million Indians supported the NGO’s work in India in the past six years and one lakh people contributed financially.
“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold universal human rights and build a global movement of people who take injustice personally,” it added.