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CBI files case against Oxfam India for breach of foreign funding law

A case has been registered against Oxfam India by CBI for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act

The CBI has registered a case against Oxfam India and its office-bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) and carried out searches at the NGO’s offices, officials have confirmed.

The CBI said that it acted on a complaint from the Home Ministry, which had suspended Oxfam India’s FCRA licence in January last year.

According to the Home Ministry’s complaint, Oxfam India received Rs 1.5 crore directly into its Foreign Contribution Utilisation account instead of the designated bank account between 2013 and 2016.

“From the email found during the I-T 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 same is also reflected from the TDS data of Oxfam India which shows payment of Rs 12.71 lakh to CPR in the FY 2019-20…,” the complaint has alleged.

Oxfam India got FCRA registration to carry out social activities but payment made to the Delhi-based think tank through its associates or employees in the form of commission is not in line with its stated objectives. This is a violation of Section 8 & 12(4) of the FCRA, the complaint added.

The complaint also mentioned that Oxfam India was planning to bypass the FCRA by transferring funds to other associations or for-profit consultancy firms. The CBI said that it had seized several emails from Oxfam India’s office during a search operation last year.

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

“Oxfam India has the reach and influence to request multilateral foreign organisations to intervene on its behalf with the Government of India,” it further alleged. In the complaint, the MHA alleged 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 also 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.

Oxfam India has denied any wrongdoing and said that it was cooperating with the authorities in the investigation.