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‘Operation Black Dollar’ exposes AAP – Party Receives Illegal foreign funding worth several Crores

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In a major turn of event, it was revealed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) allegedly received Rs 7.08 crore as foreign donations from 2014 to 2022. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and the Representational of People Act (RPA), the report said, quoting the Enforcement Directorate (ED) dossier, which the agency sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Under FCRA, no political party can receive foreign funds.

As part of the ‘Operation Black Dollar’ carried out by Indian Media Firm Times Now, the AAP received funds from countries like Canada, Saudi Arabia and Australia. The same credit cards were used by many donors. The ED dossier alleged that AAP MLA Durgesh Pathak had also siphoned of foreign funding. The foreign donation was directly deposited to the AAP in the party’s IDBI bank account, the dossier revealed.

In its dossier, the ED told the Union Home Ministry that AAP received funds from multiple donors in countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman. The dossier came ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi on May 25.

The ED, in its investigation, claimed several instances of irregularities in the collection of foreign funds by AAP and its leaders and accused some of them, including AAP MLA, Durgesh Pathak, of siphoning off the funds collected during a fund-raising event in Canada in 2016, for personal benefits.

The probe agency substantiated the allegations through the contents of e-mails exchanged between various AAP volunteers and functionaries, including Aniket Saxena (Coordinator of AAP Overseas India), Kumar Vishwas (then Convenor of AAP Overseas India), Kapil Bhardwaj (then AAP member) and Durgesh Pathak.

The investigations so far revealed that the amounts collected through fund-raising campaigns in the US and Canada and the identities of actual donors were concealed in the books of accounts maintained by the AAP to circumvent the restrictions imposed under FCRA on donations by foreign citizens to a political party, it alleged.

Same Passport Numbers, Email ID used for Donations

According to the probe agency, multiple donors used the same passport numbers, e-mail IDs, mobile numbers and credit cards to donate to AAP.

The ED shared all details with the Union Home Ministry relating to its investigations with details of donors, such as names of the donor, country of the donor, passport number, amount donated, mode of donation and bank account number of receiver, billing name, billing address, billing telephone numbers, billing e-mail, time and date of donation and payment gateway used, gathered during the investigation under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

The probe agency also gathered materials related to donations through e-mail IDs and mobile numbers of Canadian nationals.

According to the ED, 155 people residing abroad made donations totalling Rs 1.02 crore on 404 occasions using 55 passport numbers. As many as 71 donors used 21 mobile numbers for making donations totalling Rs 99.90 lakh on 256 occasions, and 75 donors residing abroad used 15 credit cards for making donations totalling Rs 19.92 lakh on 148 occasions.

How it was started?

The FCRA violation and other irregularities in receiving foreign funds by the AAP emerged during the course of an investigation in a case registered in Fazilka district of Punjab against an international drugs cartel involved in smuggling of Heroin from Pakistan through the barbed fencing on the Indo-Pak border.

In this connection, a Special Court in Fazilka had issued summons to the then AAP MLA from Bholath in Punjab, Sukhpal Singh Khaira as an accused to face the trial. During investigation by ED under PMLA, searches were conducted at the residential premises of Khaira, and his associates which resulted in seizure of Incriminating documents containing details of foreign donations (four typewritten pages containing list of donors in USA and eight hand-written pages of diary).

Opposition hammers AAP on illegal foreign funding

BJP leader Shazia Ilmi questioned the AAP over the foreign funding case. “It’s hardly matter of surprise that AAP has been receiving foreign funds for so long illegally and why some personal accounts of MLAs have been found with illegal funds which have not been declared?

Now we know why arrest of Kejriwal due so much flak from international quarters and this shows how well connected Kejriwal is. We want to know who has been giving money to AAP ,which organisations are giving money to the party legally and illegally. What are the antecedents if these organisations and people who have been giving money to the AAP,” Ilmi stated.

AAP calls it a ‘conspiracy’

A furious AAP leader Atishi hit back at the claim Monday evening, declaring herself “very angry with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi) and accusing the BJP – which she said is “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 Delhi PWD Minister pointed out the charges against her party stem from a case that is 11 years old, and one to which “all answers have been given to ED, Central Bureau of Investigation, Home Ministry, and Election Commission”. “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.

AAP’s 2013 Foreign Funds Case

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, is “scared of the AAP” and dared it to also probe foreign funds received by itself and the BJP.

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