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Fresh Charge of FCRA Violation levelled against AAP by ED

Fresh Charge of FCRA Violation levelled against AAP by ED

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 20: In a fresh charge against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has complained against the Delhi’s ruling party for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA) in receiving foreign funds between 2014 and 2022, official sources said on Monday.

The sources said the ED had written to the Union Home Ministry alleging that the AAP had received more than Rs 7 crore foreign funds in contravention of the FCRA from donors in Canada, the United States, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia between 2014 and 2022. The law says parties cannot take foreign funds.

A furious AAP leader Atishi hit back at the claim on Monday evening and said, “This is a many-year-old case, on which all answers have been given to ED, CBI, MHA and Election Commission.” Declaring herself “very angry with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi) Ms Atishi accused the BJP – which she said was “clearly losing all 20 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and Punjab – of orchestrating political attacks via the federal agency.”

“After the failure of the liquor scam and the Swati Maliwal case, now the BJP has brought this case (back)… this clear shows BJP is losing the twenty seats of Delhi and Punjab. (But) all this is not going to work. This is not the ED’s action… but the BJP. I know I am very angry with Modi,” Atishi said.

The federal probe agency attributed the findings to some documents and emails it recovered during a drugs-linked money laundering probe against former Punjab AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and some others. Khaira was arrested by the ED in 2021 shortly after a probe was launched into the case. He has since joined the Congress party. Documents seized in a raid of his home contained information on the donors, the ED has alleged. Some of the funds were allegedly siphoned by other AAP leaders for personal use.

Sources said the ED had found that the AAP received overseas donations of about Rs 7.08 crore and they allegedly “misdeclared and manipulated” the identities and nationalities of the foreign donors apart from some other details. The probe agency has now informed the MHA about the verified names of the donors, their nationalities, passport numbers, amount donated, mode of donation and bank account number of the receiver, billing name, address, phone numbers, email, time and the date of donation and payment gateway used, the sources added.

Some fundraising events hosted by the AAP through its overseas wing volunteers in the USA and Canada between 2015 and 2016 were reported to have been made in alleged violation of the FCRA, the agency further told the ministry. Alleging violations in a particular instance, the ED also informed the MHA that the names of some Canada-based people and their nationalities had been “concealed” in the party’s financial records to “hide” the foreign donations being made to the party into its Indian bank account.

A senior official said cases of FCRA violations are probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the home ministry can write to it seeking an investigation into these charges made by the ED.

The Delhi PWD Minister Ms Atishi pointed out the charges against her party stem from a case that was 11 years old, and one to which all answers have been given.  “This is a conspiracy by Modi to defame AAP,” Atishi raged. “BJP does this before every election… many such false allegations will be made over the next four days (before Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats vote, all of which were won by the BJP last time),” she said.

According to the agency, many of the donors recorded identical passport, credit card, and mobile phone numbers, as well as e-mail IDs. A confidential report to the Home Ministry, which has been leaked, indicates that 155 people living abroad donated ₹ 1.02 crore on 404 occasions.

The ED has claimed each donation is linked to one of only 55 passports, and that the AAP, to avoid restrictions, hid donor identities and routed the funds directly into an account with IDBI Bank Ltd.

This is not the first time the AAP has been accused of receiving foreign funds. As far back as 2013 – when the Congress-led UPA government was in power, the AAP was linked to foreign funding. Mr Kejriwal had then said the Congress, now its ally under the INDIA umbrella, was “scared of the AAP” and dared it to also probe foreign funds received by itself and the BJP.

That same year the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) had approached the Delhi High Court claiming the BJP and Congress had received tens of crores via Indian subsidiaries of foreign companies. Two years later the Union Home Ministry told the High Court it had found no evidence and, months later, a petition seeking a full-fledged probe was junked, saying there was no reason to intervene.

However, two years after that the centre once again asked the AAP to explain funds received from foreign sources and sent a notice to the party. The AAP hit back accusing the BJP of “witch-hunt.”


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