• Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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India probes Oxfam India over foreign funding, searches its office

The case was based on a Home Ministry complaint which alleged that though Oxfam India’s FCRA registration ceased, it planned to circumvent the law by taking other routes to channelise funds

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a first information report against Oxfam India and its office-bearers for alleged violation of foreign funding rules. (Photo: iStock)

By: easterneye.biz Staff

India’s top investigating agency has started an inquiry into Oxfam India after the government said the charity had violated the country’s foreign funding regulations.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a first information report (FIR) against the charity and its office-bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The CBI also carried out searches at the Oxfam office in Delhi, officials said on Wednesday (19).

The FIR was based on a Home Ministry complaint which alleged that though Oxfam India’s FCRA registration ceased, it planned to circumvent the law by taking other routes to channelise funds.

“Email communication found during IT (income tax) survey by the CBDT shows that Oxfam India has been planning to pressure Indian government for renewal of FCRA through foreign governments and foreign institutions,” it alleged.

The CBDT or the Central Board of Direct Taxes is part of the Finance Ministry and is responsible for the administration of direct taxes.

“The Oxfam India has the reach and influence to request multilateral foreign organisations to intervene on its behalf with the Government of India,” the complaint said.

It also claimed that this exposed Oxfam India as “a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations or entities” which have funded it liberally over the years.

It alleged that Oxfam India routed funds of its foreign affiliates such as Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Great Britain to certain NGOs and exercised control over the project.

“From the email found during IT survey by the CBDT, it appears that Oxfam India is providing funds to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) through its associates/ employees in the form of commission.”

The transactions were also reflected from the tax deduction data of Oxfam India which showed a payment of Rs 1.27 million (£12427.87) to CPR in 2019-20, the complaint said.

It said the organisation got FCRA registration to carry out social activities but payment made to the Delhi-based think tank CPR through its associates or employees in the form of commission – professional or technical services – is not in the line with its stated objectives.

In a statement earlier this month, Oxfam India said it is fully compliant with Indian laws.

“Oxfam India is fully compliant with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) returns, in a timely manner since its inception. Oxfam India has been cooperating with all government agencies since its FCRA registration wasn’t renewed in December 2021,” the charity said.

The group has filed a plea in the Delhi High Court against the decision to not renew its FCRA registration, it said.

“In times of growing inequality and greater need for action on poverty eradication, Oxfam India has been and will continue to work in Public and National interest,” it had said.

Thousands of civil society groups in India have had their licences to receive overseas donations cancelled since 2014 after prime minister Narendra Modi’s government tightened surveillance on non-profit groups.

New Delhi did not renew Oxfam India’s FCRA registration when it lapsed at the end of 2021.

(Agencies)

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