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Monday, May 29, 2023

CBI raids 40 locations linked with NGOs & MHA officials who took bribes for FCRA clearance

The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) cracked the whip on corrupt officials. The central agency conducted raids across 40 locations connected with NGOs allegedly involved in FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020) violations. Raids were also conducted against home ministry (MHA) officials who reportedly facilitated violations of foreign funding rules after accepting bribes.

The CBI conducted raids on Tuesday at multiple locations in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Mysore, and some places in Rajasthan. Hawala transactions worth 2 crore rupees have been detected so far in the raids. It has been detected during the operation that several officials from the home ministry, NGO representatives, and middlemen exchanged money to facilitate the foreign donations in violation of the FCRA.

Thus far the agency has apprehended around six persons including MHA officials and NGO representatives in the case. CBI officials said that the countrywide raids were conducted based on the inputs provided by the Union home ministry. The Home Ministry had registered a complaint against its officials and NGOs for FCRA violations and allotting licenses in exchange for bribes.

One of the CBI officers stated that the accused, including public servants, were caught red-handed accepting bribes. “Around half a dozen public servants and others are being questioned. During searches so far, transactions of around Rs 2 crore through hawala channels have been found”, OpIndia quotes the official as saying.

According to available information, the Home Secretary sent a detailed note to CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal on Home Minister Amit Shah’s orders. “When the alleged violation was brought to the notice of Home Minister Amit Shah, he immediately asked officials of the MHA to deal with this matter very strictly. Thereafter a complaint was made to CBI by MHA”, reported ANI News.

MHA highlighted in the detailed note that three FCRA clearance networks were working along with government officials. These networks reportedly charged NGOs ‘speed money’ or ‘problem resolution money’ to speed up licensing process and ‘resolve’ formalities and FCRA clearance-related issues.

“There are people who have been caught red-handed accepting bribes. If the need arises, people will be arrested”, a CBI official informed confirming the possibility of MHA officials being arrested in connection with the case.

MHA’s FCRA department is part of the foreigners’ division and grants permission to NGOs to receive foreign funds in accordance with FCRA provisions. Renewal and cancellation of FCRA licenses also fall under the division’s purview.

“At present, there are over 16,800 registered NGOs under FCRA with the MHA. Over 20,000 NGOs have lost their FCRA license in the last decade, out of which 12,500+ NGOs did not file for renewal on time. MHA has tightened the regulations under FCRA to ensure the money is not used for anti-India activities”, says OpIndia.

As per the latest information, CBI has registered FIR against Home Ministry officials, consultancy companies, and private NGOs involved in the fraud. CBI has alleged that a network of people in Delhi, TN, Jharkhand, North East perpetrated this scam along with Home Ministry officials in the FCRA department. The central agency has also named “NGO Omidiyar” as one of the accused.

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