CBI questions Under Secretary-level official in FCRA case

Central agency names 36 persons as accused; case registered on a complaint from Home Ministry

Central agency names 36 persons as accused; case registered on a complaint from Home Ministry

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday questioned an Under Secretary-level official with the Union Home Ministry in connection with a case alleging that some employees of the unit facilitated illegal clearances to non-government organizations (NGOs) under the Act, in lieu of bribes.

It is learned that on Friday, the agency conducted searches on the official’s premises. He was then summoned to join the probe. The official was posted in the FCRA unit during the check period.

The agency has named 36 persons as accused in the case, which has been registered on a complaint from the Union Home Ministry. They include, two former and four current officials of the FCRA division, representatives of the NGOs in question, middlemen and “hawala” operators.

On Wednesday, the CBI had arrested 14 persons, including the six accused officials, and seized about ₹ 3.21 crore in cash during searches at about 40 locations in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Manipur.

It has been alleged that the public servants connived with the promoters or representatives of several NGOs and middlemen to illegally facilitate FCRA registration or renewal, besides other associated works. Two former FCRA officials posed as unit employees and got bribes from the NGOs to get their jobs done.

As alleged, the officials – in conspiracy with the middlemen – were actively looking for NGOs whose applications were pending with the FCRA unit or which wanted to apply for registration under the Act in order to receive foreign donations.

Whether some applications had been kept pending during the check period in order to demand bribe may also be probed by the agency. The records of the NGOs under scrutiny are also being examined.

The role of consultants is also being looked into. In the case, Santosh Kumar Prasad and his wife Arnita Chandra, both directors of Shaurya Business Solutions, have also been named as accused.

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