Amnesty India International Pvt. Ltd. and its former CEO Aakar Patel received a show-cause notice from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday (July 8) for breaking the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The ED had discovered that Amnesty International India Foundation Trust and other Amnesty organisations had used other techniques to acquire funding from abroad following the cancellation of the FCRA licence by the Indian government.

Amnesty India and Patel both received fines from the Enforcement Directorate of 51.72 crores and 10 crores, respectively. Amnesty International (UK) allegedly collected substantial sums of money through its FCRA-incompliant businesses in India.

In a press release, ED stated that the investigation is initiated under FEMA on the basis of information that Amnesty International, UK had been remitting huge amount of foreign contribution through its Indian entities (non-FCRA companies) following FDI route, in order to evade Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to expand its NGO activities in India, despite of denial of prior registration or permissions to Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) and other trusts under FCRA by Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, Amnesty India International received foreign donations between November 2013 and June 2018 under the headings of “Business/Management Consultancy” and “Public Relation Services.” These donations were referred to be being received as overseas remittances for export to services in order to avoid FCRA regulations.

According to the statement, “The Adjudicating Authority of ED has held that AIIPL is an umbrella entity under M/s. Amnesty International Ltd., UK, which was declared to have been established for the sake of social activities in India.”

The agency added, “However, AIIPL has been involved in many activities which are not relevant to their declared commercial business, and circumventing model has been applied by them to route the foreign funds in the guise of business activities to escape FCRA scrutiny.”

Consequently, it is held that the funds that have arrived in the hands of AIIPL through inward remittances to the tune of Rs 51,72,78,111.87 is nothing but the fund lent by Amnesty International to AIIPL to ensure its objectives in the territorial jurisdiction of India, which is not accordance with the provisions of Regulation 3 of Foreign Exchange Management Regulations, 2000, ED concluded.

Aakar Patel was prevented from boarding a flight to the USA earlier in April at the airport in Bengaluru. In a money laundering case investigation, the Enforcement Directorate had attached Amnesty International India’s movable property in February 2021 of Rs 17.66 crore.

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