The Union Home Ministry on Thursday recommended a CBI probe into the affairs of the Indian arm of the global NGO Oxfam for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, sources said.
The home ministry found that Oxfam India continued to transfer foreign contributions to various entities, including other NGOs, even after registering under the FCRA, which prohibits such transfers after amendment of the law, which came into force on September 29, 2020, sources said.
There was no immediate reaction from Oxfam India.
During a survey by the Income Tax department, multiple emails were found which revealed that Oxfam India was allegedly planning to circumvent provisions of the FCRA by routing funds to other FCRA-registered associations or through the for-profit consultancy route, they said.
The survey also "exposed" Oxfam India as a probable instrument of foreign policy of foreign organisations or entities, which have funded the NGO liberally over the years, they said.
Oxfam India, which is registered to carry out social activities, allegedly routed funds to the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR) through its associates and employees in the form of commission, sources said.
The same is also reflected from the TDS data of Oxfam India, which shows payment of Rs 12,71,188 to the CPR in 2019-20. Oxfam India received foreign contributions amounting to about Rs 1.50 crore directly into its foreign contribution utilisation account instead of receiving them in the designated FCRA account, sources said.
Following these findings, the home ministry recommended a CBI probe against Oxfam India, they said.
The Income-tax department conducted surveys against CPR and Oxfam India, besides a media foundation, in September as part of a probe related to alleged FCRA contravention in funds received by them.
Oxfam India was the second NGO against whom the home ministry has recommended a CBI probe within a month for alleged violation of the FCRA.
On March 20, the home ministry recommended a CBI inquiry against Aman Biradari, an NGO established by writer and human rights activist Harsh Mander.
Oxfam India's FCRA licence was suspended in January 2022, after which the NGO filed a revision petition with the home ministry.
The FCRA licence of CPR was suspended for six months on March 1 for alleged violation of the laws.
All NGOs receiving foreign contributions have to mandatorily register with the home ministry under the FCRA.
According to Oxfam India website, the NGO has been in India since 1951 and it is a "movement of people working to end discrimination and create a free and just society".
"We work to ensure that Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, and Informal Sector Workers, especially women and girls have safe, violence-free lives with freedom to speak their mind, equal opportunities to realise their rights, and a discrimination-free future," the website says.
Officials said between 2018 and 2022, the FCRA registration of 1,827 NGOs were cancelled due to violation of its provisions and rules.
As on March 10, 2023, there were 16,383 FCRA-registered organisations.
A total amount of Rs 55,449 crore in foreign funding has been received by Indian NGOs in the last three years. An amount of Rs 16,306.04 crore was received by NGOs across the country in 2019-20, Rs 17,058.64 crore in 2020-21, and Rs 22,085.10 crore in 2021-22, the Rajya Sabha was informed last month.