Pointing to international NGO Amnesty’s projects ‘Kashmir: Access to Justice’ and ‘Justice for 1984 Sikh Massacre’, the Law Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court in New Delhi that Amnesty International UK had funneled more than 51 crore rupees to an Indian arm in violation of laws to “finance anti-national activities under the guise of exporting services”.
On July 9, the ED filed an indictment (equivalent to an indictment) against Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL), Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) and former CEOs of AIIPL G Ananthapadmanabhan and Aakar Patel for alleged money laundering.
According to the roadmap of ED, Amnesty International, to continue its activities in India, established Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) in 1999. In 2011-2012, when the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA ) entered into force, the NGO received prior authorization from the government to receive foreign funds. But that was quickly revoked following “negative input” from government agencies.
ED said Amnesty International then established IAIT, a non-profit organization, in 2012, and AIIPL (then known as Social Sector Research Consultancy & Support Services (India) Pvt Ltd), a commercial entity for profit, in 2013.
The IAIT was supposed to be financed by national funds and to carry out human rights related activities in India using these funds. AIIPL, the ED said, was supposed to do the same work by charging a fee in the form of exporting services through reporting, organizing campaigns, etc.
Both entities, ED said, had a similar set of managers, operating out of the same building, and throughout its existence AIIPL had only one major client: Amnesty International UK.
After the two entities were established, IAIT purchased a 99.8% stake in AIIPL, with the remainder held by IAIT’s directors, the ED said.
In 2015, Amnesty International UK invested Rs 10 crore in the form of FDI in AIIPL. According to the ED, the AIIPL has put Rs 9 crore in a fixed deposit. Against this FD, IAIT took advantage of an overdraft facility of over Rs 14 crore from a bank to fund its NGO activities.
Over the years, AIIPL has itself obtained Rs 36 crore (including FDI 10 crore) from Amnesty International UK against the “export of services” related to the preparation of human rights reports. man on various issues, organizing campaigns and some technical services, said the ED.
This setup, according to the agency, was nothing more than a way to circumvent the FCRA and carry out NGO work in the name of commercial activities. The ED characterized all of the money received by AIIPL and IAIT as proceeds of crime.
Amnesty officials, however, told ED in their statements that NGOs in many countries follow the model of creating two entities – one for-profit and one not-for-profit – to carry out their activities and this was done after a legal check.
Aakar Patel told the Sunday Express: “It is up to the state to prove that we have been involved in wrongdoing. I don’t know what their idea of the anti-national is. I don’t know of any law that prevents us from doing what we were doing. There is nothing wrong with us starting a limited liability company and Amnesty investing Rs 10 crore when the deal went through RBI.
The contracts that the AIIPL took from Amnesty International during this period included 12 contracts relating to “technical services”, six contracts for “activities relating to Kashmir/access to justice”, two contracts for “activities relating to the Sikh massacre of 1984”, six contracts “responsibility of companies in the coal sector”. ‘, three contracts on “Issues related to women”, two contracts on “Issues related to the rights of migrants”, eight contracts on “Public awareness of human rights”, four on “Problems related to sub-trials” and three on “Ready to report” (a campaign to report cases of sexual abuse).
ED singled out two projects – “Justice for the 1984 Sikh Massacre” and “Access to Justice at J&K” – for receiving significant foreign funding. While the former received GBP 2.5 lakh, the latter received GBP 5.95 lakh, the ED said.
He alleged that through these projects, the AIIPL was supposed to arouse public outrage through media pressure, mobilize the public through RTI, mobilize support from cadres to lobby political parties, the campaign through the media, TV, radio, etc., in addition to ensuring that the 1984 Massacre of Sikhs remains a key issue in the 2017 Punjab election manifesto.
On Kashmir, the ED said that apart from public campaigning and advocacy, one of the contracts stated that “groups like Human Rights Watch have said that courts martial in India are very biased and subject to corruption. The supplier, i.e. M/s AIIPL, will seek details of the court martial proceedings and analyze them to determine whether they are transparent, independent and impartial, in line with international fair trial standards and constitute an effective remedy for victims of rights violations”.
The ED claimed that it appeared from the terms of services of the contracts that all services were NGO activities for which foreign funding required an FCRA license from the Department of the Interior.
“When the FCRA license was revoked earlier in the year 2011-12 by the Government of India due to negative inputs received from intelligence agencies, the same activities are carried out under the guise of commercial activities This is highly suspicious when it comes to national interest Money is funneled from M/s Amnesty International UK to M/s Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd in India to fund anti-national activities under covered in the export of services, which is nothing more than providing a report where appropriate and campaigning, mass gatherings, etc.,” ED said in its court complaint.
On July 9, Amnesty India dismissed the allegations. In a post on Twitter, he said, “We reiterate that the allegations by @dir_ed, a financial investigation agency under @FinMinIndia, that Amnesty International India was involved in ‘money laundering’, are patently false. “
“This violation is further reinforced by the selective leaking of information to certain media outlets without giving the organization access to that information,” he said.
“As of 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 attorneys hired to fight multiple lawsuits filed by the Indian government” , did he declare.