Greenpeace violated FCRA norms, says official

Updated - April 03, 2016 02:20 am IST

Published - February 07, 2015 02:28 am IST - Chennai:

Close on the heels of its tax dispute with the government, environment watchdog Greenpeace may face action for alleged violation of the law regulating the receipt of foreign contributions.

On Friday, a senior Income Tax official said a matter related to a possible violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by Greenpeace India Society has been referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which administers FCRA.

A Greenpeace official confirmed the investigation by the MHA’s FCRA wing, but disputed the charge that the NGO had violated the law.

The Income Tax official said that as per FCRA, only 50 per cent of the funds can be spent on administrative costs. “Greenpeace India Society spent more than 60 per cent of the funds on recruitment, consultancy and office maintenance,” the official claimed.

The society got Rs. 5.59 crore funding for the financial year 2010-11; of this Rs. 5.11 crore was from the Netherlands.

The tax department claims it found that the Society spent Rs. 8 lakh on foreign travel/accommodation, visa fees of employees working for the Greenpeace Environment Trust. Similarly, around Rs. 37.47 lakh was spent on travel expenses for volunteers and administrators of the society. This was paid through the Trust money.

“The trust and society are completely different, but money has been used from the trust for the society and vice-versa. The trustees are also members and office-bearers of the society,” the official alleged. The books of both the entities for assessment year 2012-13 are also under scrutiny, he added.

Faced with a hefty tax demand of Rs. 3.79 crore last year, Greenpeace has paid 50 per cent of the amount and appealed against it, the official said.

When contacted, Greenpeace India Executive Director, Samit Aich, in an email response, said, “[The] FCRA wing of MHA has raised some observations seeking our explanation based on an investigation carried out by them which was ordered immediately after GPIS had filed a writ petition in the High Court. We have given satisfactory explanations clarifying that there have been no FCRA violations of any nature.”

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