ED files charge sheet against Amnesty India in money laundering case

The case is based on FIR registered by the CBI for alleged FCRA violation

Updated - July 10, 2022 12:41 am IST

Published - July 09, 2022 06:03 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Aakar Patel, former executive director of Amnesty International India.  

Aakar Patel, former executive director of Amnesty International India.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

The Enforcement Directorate has filed a prosecution complaint (charge sheet) against Amnesty International India Private Limited (AIIPL), Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT) and others in a money laundering case.

The move comes after the Adjudicating Authority of the ED imposed penalties of ₹51.72 crore on Amnesty India International Private Limited (AIIPL) and ₹10 crore on its then chief executive officer, Aakar Patel, in connection with a show cause notice issued under the Foreign Exchange Management Act in 2019.

The money laundering case is based on the First Information Report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the accused entities for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

According to the ED, in 2011-12, Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) had been granted permission under the FCRA for receiving foreign contribution from Amnesty International-United Kingdom. However, the permission was subsequently revoked on the basis of adverse inputs received from security agencies.

Then, two new entities — IAIT and AIIPL — were formed in 2013-14 and 2012-13 allegedly to escape the FCRA route and receive overseas funds in the guise of service export and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Amnesty International-UK sent ₹51.72 crore to AIIPL on the pretext of export of services and FDI.

The agency alleged that there was no documentary evidence for the export of services supposedly extended to Amnesty International-UK. No proof was submitted by AIIPL to the audhorised dealer banks in this regard.

“Amnesty International India Private Limited and others have committed scheduled offence by claiming to be carrying out ‘civil society work’, but receiving forex in a profit-making company, thereby misutilising the FDI,” said an official, adding that remittances received by AIIPL were layered into IAIT, which was a charitable trust.

The ED had earlier attached movable properties worth ₹19.54 crore and the attachment orders have been confirmed by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Adjudicating Authority.

“In light of above, a prosecution complaint has been filed under the PMLA against Amnesty International India Private Limited and others in the court of Principal City Civil and Sessions Judge, Bengaluru City, Bengaluru,” the official said.

The court has taken cognisance of the complaint and issued summonses to all the accused for their appearance.

In its response, Amnesty India on Saturday tweeted: "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."

Through a series of tweets, it said since September 2020, the bank accounts of Amnesty International India were frozen, leaving 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 Central government.

"As a member of the @UN_HRC, 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 said.

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