CBI Searches Oxfam India's Delhi Office for Allegedly Violating FCRA Regulations

CBI Searches Oxfam India's Delhi Office for Allegedly Violating FCRA Regulations

New Delhi— On Wednesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted searches at the Oxfam India office in Delhi, two days after filing a complaint against the non-profit organization and its officers for alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The Union home ministry had ordered a CBI investigation into alleged FCRA violations by the organization on April 5.

On Monday, the federal anti-corruption investigation agency filed a first information report (FIR) under many FCRA sections identifying Oxfam India and its officers. However, the FIR was made public on Wednesday when the searches were carried out.

Oxfam India, the Indian division of international charity Oxfam, advocates for the rights of Muslims, women, girls, Adivasis, and Dalits across the country. The organization was registered under the FCRA to carry out social activities. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) rejected its request to renew its license to accept and use foreign donations on December 31, 2021.

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According to a report published by the Hindustan Times, the Income Tax agency had been investigating Oxfam India for over seven months and discovered several irregularities in the organization's receipt and use of foreign donations.

The home ministry claimed that the organization “intended to bypass FCRA by routing funds through alternative methods,” even though its FCRA registration had expired.

Emails discovered by the tax department revealed that Oxfam India plotted to pressure the Indian government for FCRA renewal through international governments and foreign institutions.

The MHA stated in its statement that such behavior violates the FCRA legislation and exposed Oxfam India as potentially serving as an instrument of foreign policy for foreign organizations or companies that have purposely financed Oxfam India throughout the years.

The FIR filed includes communication from the home ministry.

The ministry further stated that any instances of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) or the Income Tax Act that the CBI finds may be reported to the relevant specialized agency. Tax-related issues come under the investigation division of the I-T department, and money laundering issues come under the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

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The CBI has also claimed that Oxfam India controlled the project and directed funds from its foreign affiliates, including Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Great Britain, to specific NGOs.

Oxfam India is allegedly giving money to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in the form of commission through its associates and workers, according to an email discovered during an I-T audit by the CBDT (central board of direct taxation). The same is also evident in Oxfam India's TDS data, which shows a payment of ₹12.71 lakhs to CPR in the FY 2019–20," it added.

The complaint stated that despite FCRA registration to engage in social activities, providing money to the Delhi-based think tank CPR in the form of commission for professional or technical services through associates or employees contradicts its stated objectives.

According to the CBI, Oxfam received 1.50 crore in foreign funds in its foreign contribution utilization account instead of the allocated FCRA account.

In December of last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs rejected Oxfam India's request to renew its FCRA license. Last month, the FCRA license of public think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) was also suspended for six months due to alleged legal infractions, prohibiting it from receiving any donations from outside the country.

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