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Enforcement Directorate dragging its feet on investigation, forcing the organisation to shrink and minimise its work on climate change in India

December 6th, 2018 | New Delhi/ Bengaluru: In a partial relief, Greenpeace India was finally able to access its bank accounts to pay out salaries and make other statutory payments upon furnishing a bank guarantee to the Enforcement Directorate. This relief comes two months after the Enforcement Directorate raided Greenpeace India’s Bangalore office and arbitrarily froze its bank accounts. The harassment, however, continues with the ED interrogating Greenpeace India with baseless questions under FEMA charges, with the sole intention of dragging the process, despite Karnataka High Court’s order to expedite its ongoing investigation.

The High Court order dated Nov 5 and made available November 14, 2018, the Bangalore HC has rejected the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) demand for a complete freeze on all of Greenpeace India’s bank accounts. Welcoming the interim order, Greenpeace India states, “We are grateful that the HC has recognised the unfairness of the ED’s complete freeze on our accounts, given our complete cooperation with their investigation. Despite it now being two months since the ED seized records from our office and froze our bank accounts, they have not been able to provide a single piece of evidence of any wrongdoing on our part. We are calling on the Ministry of Finance and the ED to either provide clear evidence of wrongdoing on our part, or put an end to this charade.”

The ED has made several unsubstantiated allegations before the Bangalore HC (see detailed rebuttal note [1] including that Greenpeace India is in violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 and is illegally receiving money from abroad. Greenpeace will be responding to each of these false claims in detail before the High Court. In a fresh round of interrogation, Greenpeace India was asked to furnish details of its top 25 donors as well.

“Asking us for a list of our donors is completely uncalled for. All our donors are Indian citizens, who have the right to donate for whichever cause they believe in. Greenpeace India will not tolerate any kind of harassment of its donors. Ever since our FCRA clearance was denied in Feb 2015, Greenpeace India has been entirely run on local donations made by Indian citizens, with a clear paper/electronic trail. Despite our providing the ED with all records and paperwork, the ED has continued to make false claims about Greenpeace India receiving foreign funds. This raises the question of whether this entire investigation is politically motivated.”

Since 2014, Greenpeace India has been consistently attacked by government agencies, with the intention of muzzling its voice and paralysing its campaigns that have taken on big corporations and challenged government’s decisions.  Greenpeace India has been working extensively on the air pollution crisis that is costing the country 2.5 million premature deaths every year according to the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. The organisation has, in particularly, called out the coal power industry for its failure to comply with the emission standards notified by the Ministry of Environment. The organisation has also been critical of continued forest destruction to facilitate coal mining.

“We are aware that our work has earned us powerful enemies. However, for such forces to misuse the investigative machinery to silence us is a slap in the face of democracy and the rule of law,” states Greenpeace India.

Greenpeace India demanded that the ED must expedite the investigations and end the ceaseless harassment once and for all. Attempts to silence Greenpeace India means muzzling the voices of thousands of Indians, who demand clean air, green forests and safe food.

Note to Editor:
[1] Point by point rebuttal to the ED’s charges
[2] Interim order by Karnataka High Court
[3] Service agreement between DDII and Greenpeace India

Timeline of events for reference:

October 5, 2018
• Enforcement Directorate officials raid the office of Greenpeace India without a warrant in Bengaluru. The warrant was issued to a vendor organisation and Greenpeace India was searched as a related party. No copy of the warrant was provided.
• All 12 accounts of Greenpeace India Society Frozen; no written communication provided to Greenpeace India. Greenpeace India came to know about it the freezing through a communication dated October 5, which they received from the bank
• No official summons given to Greenpeace India, except a receipt of search (punchnama)

October 11, 2018
Greenpeace India responded to media leaks by the ED with a public statement. All donations used to support Greenpeace India come from individual Indian donors only. Not even one paisa comes from foreign funding
-Meanwhile all documents and financial details sought verbally by the ED were furnished by Greenpeace India in a series of representations dated October 9, 10, and 17.

October 23, 2018
Greenpeace India filed a Writ Petition challenging the freezing of the accounts

November 5, 2018
Karnataka High Court rejects the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) demand for a complete freeze on all of Greenpeace India’s bank accounts. It has permitted the organisation to access funds in order to pay salaries and other statutory payments upon furnishing a bank guarantee to the ED. The court has also directed the ED to fairly expedite its ongoing investigation.

November 14, 2018
Order made available to Greenpeace India

November 19, 2018
Greenpeace India provides the bank guarantee to the ED requesting to unfreeze bank accounts as per the court interim order.
ED hand delivered summons on the same day, asking to appear in person on 27th Nov with the information that has already been provided to the ED along with personal and family details of the Head of the institution.

November 22, 2018
We are still waiting for the ED to send instructions to the bank to unfreeze.

November 27, 2018
As per summons issued as on 19 Nov 2018 Kshithij (Executive director) attended personal hearing at ED office and submitted all documents asked by ED. There were interrogation/Questions and clarifications post which a personal statement was signed by Executive Director as per ED office procedure

November 28, 2018
ED contacts Greenpeace to inform that BG submitted has expiry date which ED office legal team has rejected and asked us to collect it back and issue BG with unconditional timeline for ED to revoke if required.  During this meeting represented by Finance Team from Greenpeace India, the IT, Bangalore officials were present and asked questions about DDIIPL & GPIS & GPET relationship.

November 29, 2018
Greenpeace India  obtains the Fresh BG with annual auto renewal and on a conditional instruction to bank that the BG will be on auto renewal until ED revokes it.

December 5, 2018
Greenpeace India Executive Director  attends personal hearing at ED office