The Union Home Ministry found that at least three networks, working closely with government officials, were charging speed money and problem-resolution fees to expedite the FCRA clearance to NGOs so that they can get foreign donations, following which it has ordered a CBI probe, officials said on Wednesday.
In a countrywide crackdown on Tuesday, the CBI searched 40 locations and apprehended around 14 people, including home ministry officials, NGO representatives and alleged middlemen, for their suspected involvement in the racket.
In a communication to the CBI on March 29, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla mentioned that at least three FCRA clearance networks were working in close collaboration with some government officials.
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, the officials said.
Bhalla also conveyed to CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal the government’s approval for a thorough investigation into the alleged fraud and requested him to take necessary action.
The home secretary sent the letter to the CBI chief after Union Home Minister Amit Shah was briefed about the development and he ordered immediate and strictest possible action against those involved in it.
During its operation, the CBI found that several officials were allegedly involved in exchanging bribes for facilitating clearances of foreign donations to the NGOs in alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) rules, agency officials had said.
The coordinated operation was carried out at around 40 locations including in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Mysore and some places in Rajasthan, they said.