NGO loses permission to receive foreign funds

Kerala church had transferred funds to organisation flouting law

NGO loses permission to receive foreign funds

The Union Home Ministry has cancelled the permission granted to an organisation under the Catholic Church in Kerala to collect foreign contributions after a probe found that it violated rules.

The Kerala Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (KCCRS) was found to have transferred “almost the entire” foreign contribution it received between May 2008 and February 2012 to another organisation “Jeevana Samridhi”, which does not have the required registration to receive such funds.

The KCCRS has transferred Rs 34,19,944 to “Jeevana Samridhi” in Ernakulam district. “Jeevana Samridhi” is neither registered under Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) nor received prior permission for receiving such money. The Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council (KCBC), the apex body of Catholic Church in the state, recognises the KCCRS.

“The KCCRS had acted as a conduit for transfer of foreign contribution to Jeevana Samridhi,” the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry said in its order.

The ministry also said the organisation did not file the mandatory annual returns for 2006-07 and 2008-09 besides failing to furnish documents for 2012-13 within prescribed period. It had also “not maintained proper vouchers” for cash payments.

The FCRA registration of KCCRS was suspended on July 31 last year and given an opportunity to place on record its side of the story. In its reply, the KCCRS “accepted the violations” and before appealing against cancellation of the FCRA registration.

However, the ministry said it could not accept the request and invoked relevant section of the FCRA to cancel the registration of the Kochi-based organisation.

Last week, four American NGOs operating in India were restricted from receiving funds from abroad after the government found out that they were not adhering to laws relating to foreign contributions. It was found that the foreign funds for these NGOs were being remitted in personal accounts of a few individuals and not in bank accounts operated under FCRA Act as per law.

The ministry has been sending show-cause notices and reminders to NGOs which are not submitting returns on time and violating FCRA regulations.

According to the latest statistics, 82 per cent of over 45,000 NGOs with permission to receive foreign funds are yet to submit their accounts for 2013-14 though the deadline ended on December 31.

Only 8,636 NGOs have submitted the details of foreign funds received during 2013-14. These NGOs have received Rs 3,784.04 crore in the last fiscal.

As per the latest figures, NGOs received Rs 10,963.81 crore foreign contributions in 2012-13 as against Rs 11,544.75 crore in 2011-12. In 2010-11, such organisations received Rs 10,354.93 crore.

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