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AAP received Rs 7.08 crore foreign funds from 2014-2022, violated FCRA and RPA norms: ED to Home Ministry

In its inquiry, the ED alleged multiple instances of anomalies in the collecting of foreign funds by the AAP and its leaders, accusing some of them, including AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak, of siphoning off funds raised during a fund-raising event in Canada in 2016 for personal gain.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) informed the Union Home Ministry on Monday (20th May) that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) received Rs 7.08 crore of foreign money between 2014 and 2022, reportedly violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the Representation of People Act (RPA), and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The party led by Arvind Kejriwal disagreed with the ED’s assertions, claiming that they were part of a political effort to undermine the party.

In its report, the ED informed the Union Home Ministry that the AAP received funding from several countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman. The paperwork arrived ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi on May 25.

In its inquiry, the ED alleged multiple instances of anomalies in the collecting of foreign funds by the AAP and its leaders, accusing some of them, including AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak, of siphoning off funds raised during a fund-raising event in Canada in 2016 for personal gain.

The probe agency supported the allegations with the contents of e-mails swapped between various AAP volunteers and functionaries, including Aniket Saxena (Coordinator of AAP Overseas India), Kumar Vishwas (then Convenor of AAP Overseas India), Kapil Bhardwaj (then AAP member), and Durgesh Pathak.

“The investigations so far revealed that the amounts collected through fund-raising campaigns in the US and Canada and the identities of actual donors were concealed in the books of accounts maintained by the AAP to circumvent the restrictions imposed under FCRA on donations by foreign citizens to a political party,” it alleged.

According to the investigation agency, many individuals made donations to AAP using the same passport numbers, email addresses, cellphone numbers, and credit cards.

The ED shared all information gathered during the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, with the Union Home Ministry, including donor information such as names, country of origin, passport number, amount donated, mode of donation and bank account number of receiver, billing name, billing address, billing telephone numbers, billing e-mail, time and date of donation, and payment gateway.

The investigation agency also obtained donation-related information from Canadian nationals’ e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers.

According to the ED, 155 people residing abroad donated Rs 1.02 crore on  404 instances using 55 passport numbers. On 256 instances, 71 donors used 21 cell numbers to make donations totalling Rs 99.90 lakh, while 75 donors from abroad used 15 credit cards to make donations totalling Rs 19.92 lakh on 148 occasions.

Donations worth Rs 51.15 lakh were received through the email IDs and telephone numbers of 19 Canadian nationals, according to the ED. However, the names and nationalities of these Canadian people were suppressed and incorrectly recorded in the documents, the agency revealed. 

“Instead, different names have been mentioned against these donations and this was intentionally done by AAP to hide donations by foreign nationals, which violates Section 3 of FCRA, 2010 and Section 298 of Representation of People Act 1951,” it stated.

“The amount was raised by concealing, misdeclaring, and manipulating the identities and nationalities of foreign donors as well as several other facts relating to foreign donations,” it added.

Another inquiry discovered that AAP established an organization named AAP Overseas India, along with volunteers from countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, whose major function was to raise foreign funding for AAP. It was also discovered that in 2016, volunteers were given a target of Rs 50 crore in overseas donations.

During a fund-raising event organized by AAP in Canada in 2016, Aniket Saxena (Coordinator of AAP Overseas India) and Kumar Vishwas (then Convenor of AAP Overseas India) exchanged emails.

According to the ED, the communication revealed that Durgesh Pathak and Kapil Bhardwaj, then AAP members, had urged Aniket to make a donation of 29,000 Canadian dollars gathered during a fundraising campaign straight to Durgesh Pathak and Kapil Bhardwaj via one Bhagwant Toor.

During an AAP-organized event in Toronto on November 22, 2015, which Durgesh Pathak attended, 15,000 Canadian dollars were raised, and handwritten raw data sheets containing donor information and amounts donated were e-mailed to AAP Overseas India by Canadian party volunteers.

The ED claimed that following an inquiry, it was discovered that the names of these genuine donors, as listed on handwritten data sheets, were not reflected in the official records provided by AAP.

Another event organized by AAP in Toronto on January 30, 2016, raised a total of 11,786 Canadian dollars, with 3,821 Canadian dollars utilized to cover event expenditures, according to the inquiry agency.

“An amount of 7,955 Canadian dollars was sent to AAP in their IDBI bank account using the passports of 11 AAP Canada volunteers (Indian citizens) even though the said donation was claimed to be made by more than 200 people who had attended that event,” the Enforcement Director asserted.

Party leader and Delhi Minister Atishi meanwhile claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was afraid of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“This is not ED’s activity, but the BJP’s. This is a long-standing case, and we have provided comments to the ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Union Home Ministry, and Election Commission,” she stated.

“This is simply another plan by Modiji to smear the AAP. The BJP resorts to such tactics before every election. Many such false allegations will be made in the next four days,” she said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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