CBI arrests 6 govt officials, cases registered against 36 including Omidyar Network promoters, NGOs, MHA officials
In a big crackdown, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday registered a case against Indian promoters of US-based Omidyar Network and 36 other NGOs, and six Home Ministry officials for violations and bribery in Foreign Contribution norms. CBI already arrested 14 persons and conducted raids at 40 locations and recovered cash of Rs.3.21 crore, several incriminating documents. Omidyar Network is a multinational NGO promoted by e-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar, who is in controversy for funding many NGOs and media organizations worldwide.
For the past 12 years, Omidyar Network was heavily funded in India and till mid-2014, BJP MP and former Minister Jayant Sinha was closely associated with the US-based NGO’s India operations. CBI on Tuesday raided 40 locations in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Manipur to find the violators of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and the bribes linked to various NGOs and Home Ministry officials.
A case was registered on Tuesday against 36 accused including seven public servants of the FCRA Division of the Union Home Ministry National Informatics Centre (NIC) and middlemen besides representatives of various NGOs. They were booked on the allegations that some officials of the FCRA Division, in conspiracy with the promoters/ representatives of different NGOs, middlemen, were indulging in corrupt activities for getting backdoor FCRA registration/ renewal to NGOs illegally with an object to continue receiving donations despite not fulfilling the prescribed norms, the CBI said in a statement.
“It was further alleged that some public servants were impersonating themselves as officers posted in FCRA Division and were indulging in said practices and obtaining bribe from NGOs for facilitating them for their registration/ renewal of registration under FCRA and for other FCRA related works,” it said.
During the investigation, two accused were caught while delivering and accepting the bribe amount of Rs.4 lakh on behalf of a Senior Accountant of MHA, New Delhi. It was alleged that the delivery of the bribe was done through a hawala operator and a close associate of a said public servant, at Avadi (Tamil Nadu), the agency said. The arrested accused are being produced before the Competent Court and further investigation is continuing, said CBI.
The arrested public servants are Pramod Kumar Bhasin, Senior Accountant, Ministry of Home Affairs, who was earlier posted in FCRA Division; Alok Ranjan, Senior AO, PAO, MHA, who earlier worked in FCRA Division (MHA), Raj Kumar, Accountant, FCRA; Md. Saheed Khan, Assistant Director, FCRA, Delhi; Md. Ghazanfar Ali, an officer of MHA, earlier posted in the FCRA Division, and Tushar Kanti Roy, an FCRA official.
The arrested private persons Pawan Kumar Sharma alias Pareek Bhai, Ramanand Pareek, hawala operator located at Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Robin Devadass, Gandhi Nagar, Chennai (NGO-The Social Project, Keezandurai Road, Nagavedu Village, Nemili TK, Vellore (Tamil Nadu), Ravi Shankar Ambastha of Rohini, Delhi, Manoj Kumar of Secunderabad, Hyderabad (Telangana), Santosh Kumar Prasad, Director of the consultancy firm Shaurya Business Solutions Private Limited, Dayanand Colony, Lajpat Nagar–IV, New Delhi and another office at CWG. The village, Akshardham, New Delhi, Amita Chandra, Director of s Shaurya Business Solutions Private Limited, Vageesh, Chartered Accountant, working in a hospital on behalf of Ganga Orthopaedic Research & Education Foundation (GOREF), PN Pudur, Coimbatore.
The three networks, having links with the government officials, were charging “speed money” and “problems resolution fees” to expedite the FCRA clearance to the NGOs and resolve issues related to the application process for new registrations and renewals, officials said. In his letter, the Union Home Secretary also conveyed to the CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal the Government’s approval for a thorough investigation into the alleged fraud and requested him to take necessary action.
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