After FEMA Penalty, ED Files Money Laundering Chargesheet Against Amnesty India

The probe agency on Friday imposed a penalty of Rs 51.72 crore on Amnesty International India Private Limited and Rs 10 crore on its former head Aakar Patel.

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New Delhi: A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) slapped a fine of Rs 51.72 crore against Amnesty India, the agency on Saturday said it has filed a money-laundering chargesheet against the human rights organisation and a few other entities.

A prosecution complaint – the equivalent of a chargesheet – has been filed before the court of Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge, Bengaluru city against Amnesty International India Private Limited (AIIPL), Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) and others.

The court has taken congnisance of the chargesheet filed under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and issued summonses to the accused, the ED said in a statement.

On Friday, the probe agency issued a show-cause notice under the civil regulation, the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), imposing a penalty of Rs 51.72 crore on AIIPL and Rs 10 crore on its former head Aakar Patel.

The money-laundering case was filed by the ED after taking cognisance of a CBI first information report (FIR) for alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 and under section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The ED said during “2011-12, Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) had been granted permission under the FCRA, 2010 for receiving foreign contribution from Amnesty International, UK”.

“The permission/registration has been subsequently revoked to this entity on the basis of adverse inputs received,” it added.

Subsequently, two new entities – AIIPL and IAIT – were formed in 2013-14 and 2012-13 respectively to “escape the FCRA route and these entities received foreign exchange in the guise of service export and FDI”, the federal agency said.

There was no documentary proof for export proceeds or advances received for export of services to Amnesty International, UK such as invoices and copies of the agreement between AIIPL and Amnesty International, UK and the same has not been furnished by AIIPL to the authorised dealer (AD) banks, the ED alleged.

“Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd and others have committed scheduled offence by claiming to be carrying out ‘civil Society work’, however receiving forex in a profit-making company, thereby mis-utilising the FDI, proved by absence of any details/documents relating to exports made and layering of remittances received by AIIPL, a company into IAIT, a charitable trust. In this case, both the entities have acquired proceeds of crime and layered the same in the form of various movable properties,” the agency said.

“Consequently, it is held that the funds that have arrived to 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 in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 3 of Foreign Exchange Management (Borrowing and Lending in Foreign Exchange) Regulations, 2000,” the agency said.

The fine order was issued on Friday after a probe by the adjudicating authority of FEMA, an officer of the special director rank of the ED, was completed.

The ED’s action will be challenged, Aakar Patel said. “The ED is the govt not the judiciary. we will fight it (again) and win (again) in court,” Patel tweeted through a handle which is unverified.

(With PTI inputs)