CBI books Oxfam India for FCRA violation, searches its offices

CBI carried out searches at Oxfam India’s offices on Wednesday, and registered a case on Thursday based on a complaint filed by the Union home ministry.

| Updated: 20 April, 2023 1:45 pm IST
In January of this year, the government cancelled Oxfam India's FCRA license.

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated legal proceedings against Oxfam India and its office-bearers for allegedly violating India’s foreign funding rules.

Officials revealed that the CBI carried out searches at Oxfam India’s offices on Wednesday, and registered a case on Thursday based on a complaint filed by the Union home ministry.

The complaint alleges that between 2013 and 2016, Oxfam India received approximately ₹1.5 crores directly into its Foreign Contribution Utilisation account, rather than the designated bank account, violating India’s foreign funding rules.

The ministry’s complaint also claims that Oxfam India broke the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 rules by routing ₹12.71 lakh to the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in the financial year 2019-20.

In January of this year, the government cancelled Oxfam India’s FCRA license. The CBI registered a case on April 17 based on the complaint it received from the MHA on April 5 this year.

“Email communication found during an IT survey by the CBDT shows that Oxfam India has been planning to pressurize the Indian government for renewal of FCRA through foreign governments and foreign institutions,” the complaint alleged.

It also states that Oxfam India’s financial support from foreign organizations/entities makes it a probable instrument of foreign policy for those entities, thereby violating section 12(4)(1)(ii) of the FCRA, 2010.

The complaint further states that if the CBI discovers that other specific statutes, such as the Income Tax Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), etc., have been violated during the investigation, the CBI should send table references to the competent authorities administering those relevant acts for appropriate follow-up action.

According to the complaint, the Income Tax Department’s searches last year revealed that Oxfam India is providing funds to Centre for Policy Research (CPR) through its associates/employees in the form of commission. The complaint states that this is reflected in the TDS data of Oxfam India, which shows payment of ₹12.71 lakh to CPR in the financial year 2019-20. The complaint alleges that this agreement violates Section 12AA (3) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and must be further investigated.

The complaint also alleges that Oxfam India is making payments to Environics Trust and CPR under Section 1941 in the form of payments for fees for professional or technical services. It states that while 18 per cent GST rate is applicable for other professionals, technical and business services, Oxfam India has not deducted any GST in respect of these payments.

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