The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 19 conducted searches at the Delhi office of Oxfam India, following the registration of a case against the organisation and its office-bearers, alleging violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
Listing the alleged violations, the First Information Report (FIR) said the email communication found during an Income Tax survey showed that Oxfam India had been planning to pressurise the Indian government for the renewal of FCRA registration through “foreign governments and foreign institutions”.
“Oxfam India has the reach and influence to request multilateral foreign organisations to intervene on its behalf with the Government of India. This exposed Oxfam India as a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations/entities which have funded Oxfam India liberally over the years,” it said.
The Home Ministry said even though Oxfam India’s FCRA registration had ended, it planned to circumvent the provisions by routing funds through other ways. “From the email found during the IT survey by the CBDT [Central Board of Direct Taxes], it appears that Oxfam India is providing funds to the Centre for Policy Research [CPR] through its associates/employees in the form of commission,” said the Ministry.
Not in line
The same was allegedly reflected in the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) data of the organisation, which showed a payment of over ₹12.71 lakh to the CPR in 2019-20. Stating that Oxfam India had got FCRA registration to carry out social activities, the Ministry said the payment made to the CPR via its associates or employees in the form of commission (professional or technical services), was not in line with its stated objectives.
“Oxfam India continued to pay subgrants to various partners even after coming into forces of the FCR Amendment Act, 2020, which prohibits such transfers. The FCRA Amendment... states that FCRA-registered association would not be entitled to transfer or subgrant any of the FC [Foreign Contribution] to other organisation whether registered or unregistered under the FCRA...,” it said.
As mentioned in the FIR, Oxfam India apparently used to route funds of its foreign affiliates — such as Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Great Britain — in India to select non-government organisations and at the same time, exercised control over the funds and projects. From the emails, it appeared that the organisation was planning to route funds to the other FCRA-registered associations or via for-profit consultancy route.
Oxfam India got foreign contributions amounting to about ₹1.50 crore from 2013-14 to 2015-16 directly in its account, instead of receiving the funds in the FCRA-designated bank account, the FIR alleges.