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After FEMA penalty, ED files money-laundering chargesheet against Amnesty India, linked orgs

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New Delhi, July 9: The Enforcement Directorate Saturday said it has filed a money-laundering chargesheet against Amnesty India and a few other entities, a day after the agency imposed a penalty of over Rs 61 crore against the global NGO and its former head Aakar Patel for alleged violation of the Indian foreign exchange law.

After FEMA penalty, ED files money-laundering chargesheet against Amnesty India, linked orgs

A day after the ED issued a FEMA showcause notice of Rs 61.72 crore against Amnesty India and its former head Aakar Patel, the agency on Saturday said it has filed a money-laundering chargesheet against the organisation and a few other entities. Amnesty India issued a series of Tweets and said the charge of money laundering against it was "patently untrue" and "trumped-up."

The ED said a prosecution complaint 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 Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in a statement.

The money-laundering case was filed by the ED after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR against the accused, whom the CBI had booked 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 that 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. It said as the FCRA licence of AIIFT was "revoked" by the Centre, a "new method" was adopted by Amnesty entities to receive money from abroad as Amnesty International, UK sent Rs 51.72 crore to AIIPL in the guise of export of services and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

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.

Amnesty defended itself saying, "We reiterate that the allegations of @dir_ed, a financial investigation agency under @FinMinIndia, that Amnesty International India was involved in 'money laundering', are patently untrue." "The malicious intent of the Enforcement Directorate is evident from the fact that they have yet again issued multiple press releases even before legal notices have reached @AIIndia (Amnesty India) and @Aakar__Patel. This is a violation of the principles of natural justice," it said.

The international human rights organisation said "since September 2020, the bank accounts of Amnesty International India remain frozen with no means to pay full dues to ex-employees or for the services of lawyers engaged to fight the multiple court cases initiated by the Government of India."

"As a member of the @UN_HRC, (UN Human Rights Council) India is required to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights." "On the contrary, putting a squeeze on its critics through trumped-up charges under repressive laws has become routine for this Indian Government," it tweeted. The show-cause notice issued on Friday under the civil law of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) penalised AIIPL for Rs 51.72 crore and Patel for Rs 10 crore. Patel had said they will challenge the ED action undertaken under FEMA in court.

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