'Dark days have returned': Amnesty on ED freezing bank accounts

Of the Rs 36 crore received through commercial route, Rs 10 crore was placed in FD (fixed deposit) as it is a long-term loan.

ED searches Amnesty office in Bengaluru for 'illegal remittances'
By: ABP News Bureau & IANS
Updated: 26 Oct 2018 03:55 PM
Bengaluru: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) searched the human rights body Amnesty International India's headquarters in Bengaluru for remittances from abroad allegedly in violation of FDI guidelines, said an official on Thursday.

"We have been conducting searches at Amnesty's office in Bengaluru and its Director's (Aakar Patel) residence in the city since afternoon," an ED source told IANS from New Delhi.


In a statement later, the economic intelligence agency (ED) said Amnesty had received Rs 36-crore foreign funds till date from overseas in violation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) guidelines.

"The Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) resorted to bypass the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) by floating commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL) after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) denied permission for its registration," said the Directorate in the statement.

Of the Rs 36 crore received through commercial route, Rs 10 crore was placed in FD (fixed deposit) as it is a long-term loan.



"The NGO's another entity - Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) had opened an overdraft facility for Rs 14.25 crore by keeping the Rs 10-crore FD as collateral," noted the statement.

The remaining Rs 26 crore was received in two other bank accounts of AIIPL as aconsultancy services'.

"Searches were conducted at Amnesty's Bengaluru office in this background and further investigation is in progress,a added the statement.

An Amnesty official confirmed the search, which began on Thursday afternoon.

"The search has been on since afternoon," the official told IANS later.

COMPLETE STATEMENT BY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL BELOW: 

Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping our work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

“Government authorities are increasingly treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises”, said Aakar Patel. “As an organisation committed to the rule of law, our operations in India have always conformed with our national regulations. The principles of transparency and accountability are at the heart of our work.”

Around 1:30 pm on 25 October, a group of officers from the Enforcement Directorate entered our premises and locked the gates behind them. They ordered the Amnesty India staff to remain in office, shut their laptops, and not use their mobile phones.

The focus of the Enforcement Directorate’s questioning was the relationship between two entities: Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd and Amnesty International India Foundation.

Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant authorities. Details of our current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on our website since 2014.

However, ahead of the raids, the Indian authorities leaked a cache of their internal documents marked “secret” that appear to cast Amnesty India’s operations as a dark web of intrigue.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance and dissent,” said Aakar Patel.

“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again. Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them”, said Aakar Patel.

Over 40 lakh Indians have supported Amnesty India’s work over the last six years and around one lakh Indians have made a financial contribution.

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