NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked the CBI to probe the transfer of funds by US-based Ford Foundation to Teesta Setalvad’s company, Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL) for alleged violation of foreign contribution norms. The government has also seized the bank account of Sabrang, directing the bank concerned not to allow any transaction without the permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Express had on Thursday reported that the MHA was mulling a CBI probe into SCPPL that received $2, 90,000 from Ford Foundation without clearance from ministry. As per the rules, foreign funding cannot be received without Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration.
According to top sources, the order for CBI probe was issued on Friday under relevant Sections of the FCRA. They said the MHA officials had carried out inspection of the accounts and records of the SCPPL from June 8 to June 10 in Mumbai and during the course of the inspection, it was found that the association had violated the provisions of FCRA.
An official, while confirming that an order for seizure of the bank account was also issued on Friday, further, said that SCPPL is a ‘Private Limited Company’ engaged in publication which is not entrusted to receive foreign funding under any circumstances. “Still if the company thought otherwise they could have applied for prior permission before accepting the foreign contribution but they did not do so and violated FCRA rules,” the official stated. Sources said during the inspection by the MHA officials, it was found that SCPPL did not maintain exclusive books of accounts in respect of foreign funds received and utilised which is a serious offence. Moreover, as per the project modules submitted by the foreign donor, it has been mentioned that SCPPL as part of its public campaign would lobby with the government in the public sphere.
“This is another serious violation as lobbying with political parties is prohibited as per rules of FCRA,” sources said, adding that two of SCPPL directors have been writing columns and articles in newspapers which is in violation of the FCRA.
Setalvad, Javed Anand and Gulam Mohd Peshmam are the three directors of the company. The company was incorporated in Mumbai in November 1993 with an authorised capital of Rs 1lakh.
Turning the table on teesta
■ The SCPPL has received foreign contribution of $290,000 and Rs 1,30,97,153 in violation of FCRA
■ The MHA asked the CBI to submit the investigation report at the earliest