The Enforcement Directorate has told the Ministry of Home Affairs that the Aam Aadmi Party received more than Rs 7 crores through foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, The Indian Express reported on Monday, citing unidentified officials.

Only Indian citizens or companies can make donations to political parties. Political parties are not allowed to accept foreign contributions as per the Representation of the People Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

In October 2022, the Enforcement Directorate first sent a communication to the Union home ministry in connection with the allegations of foreign funding after it recovered documents and emails while probing a 2015 drugs case against former Punjab Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, among others, The Indian Express reported.

In August 2023, the central law enforcement agency sent a detailed communication to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act Department, which reports to the Union home ministry. It alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party had violated the regulation and the Representation of the People Act.

The Enforcement Directorate recently shared fresh inputs in this matter with the ministry, the newspaper reported quoting an unidentified official.

On Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party said that it was an old matter. The party said that it had taken all its donations “with complete transparency” and has “given the account of every single rupee donation with complete transparency” to the Election Commission, the Income Tax Department and other institutions.

Adding that the allegations were “long-forgotten”, Aam Aadmi Party leader Atishi said that the party had already replied to the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Union home ministry and the Election Commission.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Sandeep Pathak accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of raising an old issue and said that the Union home ministry had in 2015 submitted an affidavit in the Delhi High Court saying that there were no irregularities in his party’s funding.

This came after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena earlier in May recommended a National Investigation Agency probe against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for allegedly receiving political funding from the banned organisation Sikhs for Justice.

Saxena made the recommendation to the Union home ministry based on a complaint by Ashoo Mongia of the World Hindu Federation.

Sikhs for Justice is a pro-Khalistan group based in the United States, which was banned in India in 2019. Khalistan refers to an independent Sikh nation sought by some groups.

ED’s allegations

In 2022, the Enforcement Directorate told the Union home ministry that during the investigation of the case against an international drugs cartel, searches were conducted at premises belonging to Khaira and his associates.

The central agency alleged that it had “recovered incriminating documents, containing details of foreign donations and eight hand-written pages of diary” during the searches.

“Khaira in his statement has disclosed that the foreign funding was raised during an overseas fund-raising campaign in the USA organised by AAP in April-May 2016 – just before the upcoming Punjab assembly elections,” the central agency said, according to The Indian Express.

“He claimed that he also participated in the fund-raising campaign, but foreign funds as recorded in the seized documents were used by AAP and not by him.”

The Enforcement Directorate also told the Union home ministry that Aam Aadmi Party leader Pankaj Gupta had admitted that the party had received foreign donations.

“Probe has also revealed that AAP had intentionally concealed the identity and nationality of the real donors, even multiple donors used same email IDs, used same mobile numbers and also used the same credit card for donation on 148 occasions,” it had told the ministry.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, the party received about Rs 7.08 crores from overseas donations. It alleged that contributions came from 19 Canadian nationals. However, their names and nationality were concealed in the Aam Aadmi Party’s records.

“It is amply clear from investigation … that AAP is collecting foreign donations in violation of provisions of FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] and the Representation of the People Act, 1951, by concealing, mis-declaring and manipulating the identities of foreign donors,” the central agency alleged.

The Enforcement Directorate also claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party set up a body called “AAP Overseas India” along with volunteers in the United States, Canada and Australia, India Today reported. It alleged that their primary task was to mobilise foreign contributions for the party.