The Law Enforcement Directorate said on Saturday it had filed a money laundering complaint against Amnesty India and a few other entities, a day after the agency imposed a fine of over Rs 61 crore against the global NGO and its former head Aakar Patel for alleged violation of India’s Foreign Exchange Act.
A day after ED issued a Rs 61.72 crore FEMA demonstration notice against Amnesty India and its former chief Aakar Patel, the agency said on Saturday it had filed a money laundering complaint against the organization and a few other entities.
Amnesty India posted a series of tweets and said the money laundering charge against her was “demonstrably false” and “fabricated”.
The ED said a case has been filed in the Chief Civil Judge Court and Bengaluru City Sessions against Amnesty International India Private Limited (AIIPL), Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) and others.
The court took cognizance of the indictment filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and issued summonses to the accused, the Enforcement Directorate said. (ED) in a statement.
The money laundering case was filed by the ED after learning of a CBI FIR against the accused, which the CBI had reserved for alleged violations of the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 and under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The ED said that during “2011-2012, Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) obtained permission under the FCRA, 2010 to receive foreign contribution from Amnesty International, UK”.
“Authorization/registration was subsequently revoked for this entity based on adverse information received,” it added.
Subsequently, two new entities – AIIPL and IAIT – were created in 2013-14 and 2012-13 respectively to evade the FCRA route and these entities received foreign exchange “under cover” from the export of services and FDI , said the federal agency.
He said that as AIIFT’s FCRA license was ‘revoked’ by the Centre, a ‘new method’ was adopted by Amnesty entities to receive money from abroad, Amnesty International, UK having sent Rs 51.72 crore to AIIPL under the guise of export of services and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
There was no documentary evidence for export earnings or advances received for the export of services to Amnesty International, UK, such as invoices and copies of the agreement between AIIPL and Amnesty International , UK and the same was not provided by AIIPL to Authorized Reseller (AD) banks, according to ED.
“Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd and others have committed an intended offense by pretending to be doing ‘civil society work’ but receiving foreign exchange in a for-profit business thereby misusing FDI as proven by the absence of any details/documents relating to the exports made and the stratification of the remittances received by AIIPL, a company, in IAIT, a charitable trust.
“In this case, both entities acquired proceeds of crime and layered them in the form of various moveable assets,” the agency said.
Amnesty defended itself saying, “We reaffirm that the allegations by @dir_ed, a financial investigation agency under @FinMinIndia, that Amnesty International India was involved in ‘money laundering’, are patently false.”
“The malicious intent of the Law Enforcement Directorate is evident from the fact that they again issued several press releases even before the legal notices reached @AIIndia (Amnesty India) and @Aakar__Patel . This is a violation of the principles of natural justice,” it said.
The international human rights organization said that “since September 2020, Amnesty International India’s bank accounts remain frozen with no way to pay full dues to former employees or for the services of lawyers hired to fight against the multiple legal actions taken by the Indian government.
“As a member of the @UN_HRC, (United Nations Human Rights Council), India is bound to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”
“On the contrary, pressuring its critics through false accusations under repressive laws has become routine for this Indian government,” he tweeted.
The show cause notice issued under the civil law of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) on Friday penalized AIIPL for Rs 51.72 crore and Patel for Rs 10 crore.
Patel had said they would challenge the ED action taken under FEMA in court.
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