China funding: CBI case brings more trouble for NewsClick

| Updated: 11 October, 2023 4:39 pm IST

NEW DELHI: After the Delhi Police, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against news website NewsClick, its founder Prabir Purkyastha, and American citizen Neville Roy Singham, and a foreign-based firm on allegations of violating the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).

NewsClick is accused of receiving illicit funding from the Chinese government through a web of companies.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), another Central agency investigating allegations of financial crimes, has found that Singham provided approximately Rs 38 crore to NewsClick between 2018 and 2021.

Singham is an American citizen originally from Sri Lanka and is alleged by the ED to be associated with the Communist Party of China.

“Newsclick received unexplained export remittances of Rs 28.46 crore through four foreign entities in violation of FCRA provisions. There was an unexplained receipt of foreign funds amounting to Rs 9.59 crore due to the incorrect characterization of the fund as FDI. Director Prabir Purkyastha and his close associates had allegedly violated the provisions of FCRA, 2010,” the CBI said.

An official said that provisions of FCRA prohibiting the acceptance of foreign contributions by a company engaged in the production and broadcast of audio-visual news or current affairs programs through any electronic mode and by any correspondent, columnist, writer, or owner of such a company were violated.

Searches were conducted at two locations in Delhi at the premises of the accused.

On October 4, Delhi Police arrested Purkayastha and HR head and shareholder Amit Chakravarthy, following raids at the website’s office and residences of its journalists in connection with allegations of illegal funding from China to shape up the narrative in favor of Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak.

The Delhi Police had registered a fresh FIR under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against NewsClick for receiving illegal funding from China and using it to run anti-India activities.

In August, The New Indian accessed a leaked email in which Purkayastha allegedly discussed with US tech billionaire Neville Roy Singham on how to defend China’s position regarding its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. In the email, Singham also referred to NewsClick employees and one Vijay Prasad as “international friends who work together on creating information for the people.”

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