FCRA violations: Amnesty International’s Bengaluru offices raided by Enforcement Directorate

Amnesty International - India is under scanner for FEMA and FCRA violations

The Bengaluru head offices of Amnesty International was raided by Enforcement Directorate today. According to reports, the raid by ED for violation of FDI guidelines started around 2 PM and was continuing into the evening. The raids were conducted at two locations in Bengaluru under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and FCRA rules.

The human rights organisation, along with hundreds of NGOs working in India, are under the scanner for receiving unauthorised foreign funding in the last few years. After the NDA government came to power, agencies have been investigating such organisations over money they receive from abroad.

To receive foreign funding, NGOs are required to enlist under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). There are certain norms to register under FCRA, and only FCRA registered NGOs can receive donations from abroad. Organisations without the registration can receive foreign contribution only after obtaining prior permission from FCRA department, subject to fulfilling certain conditions. Due to violations of these rules, the government of India had earlier cancelled FCRA licence of around 13,000 NGOs.

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Investigators suspect that Amnesty International-UK and other some other UP based entities have transferred funds to Amnesty’s India unit through commercial channels, which is a violation of FEMA rules. According to reports, the NGO received ₹36 crore between May 2014 and August 2016 through this route. FCRA unit has alleged that Amnesty International was receiving funds via FDI route. Amnesty International – India had registered four entities as companies for this purpose, Amnesty International India Private Limited, Amnesty International South Asia Foundation, Indians For Amnesty International Trust and Amnesty International (India) Foundation.

Financial irregularity is not the only issue with Amnesty, the NGO was also caught peddling fake news.

Early this year, Amnesty India tweeted: “Over 900 people have been killed in police encounters in UP between March 2017 and January 2018. NHRC says UP police are ‘misusing their power in the light of an undeclared endorsement of the higher-ups’.” 900 people was a highly exaggerated number, to which UP police had issued strong rebuttal and threatened legal action against the NGO. Following this, Amnesty India was forced to issue an apology.

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