The Enforcement Directorate on Friday imposed a fine of Rs 51.72 crore on Amnesty India International and Rs 10 crore on the human rights organisation’s chair Aakar Patel for allegedly violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
The central agency has also issued a show cause notice of penalty on Patel and the Amnesty India International.
The central agency claimed that it had initiated an inquiry on the allegations that Amnesty International-United Kingdom was remitting a large amount of funds from abroad through its Indian entities – by taking the foreign direct investment route – to evade the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, PTI reported.
Remitting involves sending money in payment or as gifts.
These funds were allegedly received to expand the organisation’s activities in India despite the home ministry having denied registration to the organisation and Amnesty India Foundation Trust under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
The Enforcement Directorate claimed that Amnesty International India has been involved in activities that are irrelevant to their declared commercial businesses, the Hindustan Times reported. The organisation’s working model is used to route foreign funds in the guise of business activities, it added.
“All contentions and submission from AIIPL [Amnesty International India Private Limited] regarding the claim of the remittance towards the export of services to Amnesty International have been dismissed, in the absence of concrete evidence,” the ED statement read.
In April, the Central Bureau of Investigation had also launched an inquiry against Patel for violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act by allegedly allowing Rs 36 crore to be remitted to Amnesty India without government approval.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has said that the Amnesty International India Foundation Trust was given permission during 2011-’12 for receiving foreign contributions from the Amnesty International-United Kingdom. However, the permission was cancelled following adverse inputs from the security agencies.
The agency alleged that the Indians for Amnesty International Trust and the Amnesty International India Private Limited were then formed in 2012-’13 and 2013-’14 to “escape the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] route”.
In September 2020, the human rights organisation had said it was forced to shut its operations as the Indian government had frozen its bank accounts. The group had said its “lawful fundraising model” was being portrayed as money laundering because Amnesty India had challenged the “government’s grave inactions and excesses”.
The Centre had described the allegations as unfortunate, exaggerated and “far from the truth”. Amnesty’s “glossy statements” about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power were nothing but a “ploy to divert attention” from their activities, which were in “clear contravention” of Indian laws, the government had said.