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Taxmen probe CSR donations to NGO by aviation, missile firms

Rs 143 crore came over 3 years, NGO says got Rs 85 crore.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi |
September 1, 2016 4:26:36 am
 csr, deepak talwar, CSR donations, telephone tapping controversy, CSR donations to NGO, IT investigation, ranjit sinha diary, radia tapes, It scanner, MBDA, Advantage India, aviation consultant Deepak Talwar, talwar ngo, corporate social responsibility, csr funds, Niira Radia, indian express news, india news NGO in South Delhi. Ritu Sarin.

Investigations by the Income Tax Department into aviation consultant Deepak Talwar — named in the Ranjit Sinha diary and the Radia tapes — have come up with startling revelations. A search of his premises on June 22 has yielded documents and data showing that an NGO run by Talwar by the name of Advantage India got donations to the tune of around Rs 143 crore under the head of CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds from at least two defence and aviation firms.

The payments, now under IT scanner, were made to Advantage India between June 2012 and April 2015 in several tranches by MBDA, Europe’s leading missile manufacturing company and the erstwhile EADS, which in 2014 was reorganised as the Airbus Group.

Both companies confirmed to The Indian Express that CSR funds were indeed given to Advantage India and that they had appointed “oversight committees” in India to oversee the expenditure.

Incidentally, Talwar’s name had figured 54 times in the entry register maintained outside former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s residence.
Last month, a panel appointed by the Supreme Court indicted Sinha for attempting to influence the probe into the coal block scam.

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Talwar’s name also figured in the PEs (preliminary inquiries) that were registered by the CBI following the Niira Radia telephone tapping controversy but that probe did not result in any firm cases being registered.

Income Tax officials said their investigations have revealed suspected “fake” expenses incurred by Advantage India: account books reportedly showing purchase of medicine to the tune of Rs 32 crore; purchase of Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) costing a total of around Rs 25 crore and significant billings for exercise books and stationery.

“We have several questions regarding the NGO’s expenses and the authenticity of their disclosures along with other tax issues, Deepak Talwar will be questioned on the utilization of donations from MBDA and EADS,” a top official said.

The IT sleuths are also matching foreign donations and receipts with the filings of Advantage India with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to obtain and maintain their FCRA registration. The filings show that Advantage India received foreign contribution amounting to Rs 39.16 crore during 2014-15. It did not receive any foreign contribution during 2006-07 to 2011-12 and it did not file contribution report for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14. Its declaration filed in 2014-15 says that while it utilised Rs 32.34 crore during the year, total unspent foreign contribution was Rs 6.81 crore.

When The Indian Express visited the office of Advantage India in the Yusuf Sarai area in south Delhi, there was a staff of three people present. A manager was at hand to explain that at present the NGO was engaged in the conduct of some tailoring and medical camps and was running two MMUs.

Later, the NGO’s compliance manager Sanjay Mittal, said that two companies, MBDA and EADS, had formed a consortium with Advantage India and had given donations to the tune of Rs 85 crore over a three-year period between 2012-2015.

“At one point Advantage India was running eight MMUs and over 4.5 lakh people have received free healthcare through them. Besides this, Advantage India has been providing free primary education and running livelihood centres. Now the donations from MBDA and EADS have stopped and today, in fact, was the last day for an MMU to be deployed by us in a village since the funds have dried up,” he said.

Deepak Talwar told The Indian Express that the NGO had been set up by him around 17 years ago but that he was not involved in its day-to-day functioning any more.

He said, “All the donations we have received from the foreign companies have been accounted for and how does it matter where the money has come from if it is being used in the right manner? There is no wrong doing here.”

In response to queries from The Indian Express, MBDA stated, “In the frame of our longstanding partnership with India, MBDA decided some years ago to invest into India’s future through some CSR programs. Regarding the CSR programme with Advantage India, the mission was to enhance health, education and livelihood status of the underprivileged population. Based on a concrete action plan, MBDA funded Advantage India to provide increased access to health care (free of cost) through Mobile Medical Units at village level and to promote health care through awareness generation about the preventive measures against diseases. During this partnership, MBDA has regularly taken part of ‘Donors’ Oversight Committees’ to discuss achievements and plans going forward.’’

As for Airbus, sources close to the company said that its donations stopped when the company integration took place in 2014. In the case of Advantage India, its focus was on healthcare and it received regular utilisation certificates from the NGO.

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