Rana Ayyub Breaks Silence on ED, Income Tax Investigations; says bank statements were ‘deliberately misread’

Rana Ayyub released a statement on Friday in response to the allegations made against her by the Directorate of Law Enforcement (ED). Veteran journalist Rana Ayyub has been accused by the agency of embezzling funds received in the form of donations for relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The statement released by Rana Ayyub on Friday said: “It is abundantly clear that no part of the relief campaign fund is missing, and there is absolutely no possibility of remote allegations of misuse. misuse of funds for personal expenses.

“Such allegations are preposterous, totally in bad faith and denied by the record, and constitute a willful misinterpretation of my bank statements.”

Rana Ayyub’s statement adds: “The smear campaign against me will not deter me from my professional commitment to continue to do my job as a journalist, and especially to raise critical issues and ask uncomfortable questions, as is my duty of a journalist in a constitutional democracy I am confident that the allegations against me will not withstand fair and honest scrutiny.

“For now, since I have raised public funds through campaigns, I am sharing an account of how public money was spent, to remove any doubts about their use and maintain transparency.”

Ketto fundraisers

Rana Ayyub says she launched fundraisers on the Ketto platform in April 2020, June 2020 and May 2021 to “help provide respite to the most vulnerable and affected people with food grains, rations and food. medical assistance”.

In her statement, the reporter wrote that Ketto had asked her to provide details of two bank accounts where the donations would be transferred.

“I then investigated whether it was possible for Ketto to transfer the funds directly to the grain vendors who were going to supply the supplies for the relief work. However, since the vendors were all required to submit various documents to Ketto, the process could not take off.

“My personal bank account could not be used at that time because Ketto required the physical copy of my PAN card to be provided immediately, which at that time was not available. Under these circumstances, as I believed that help for families ravaged by Covid-19 should be delayed, I have given Ketto the details and documents relating to the bank accounts of my father and my sister,” the statement added.

Rana Ayyub goes further saying that she has regularly posted updates on social media about the funds she has raised for the relief work.

“I also knew that part of the money had been donated to the relief campaign carried out by Muslims in India during the month of Ramadan, presumably as a Zakat. As a practicing Muslim, I understand the sanctity of Zakat and its intended use for those in need,” she said.

“Contracted Covid, had spinal surgery”

Rana Ayyub said it was at the same time she contracted Covid-19 and had to be hospitalized.

“My team of volunteers engaged in Covid relief work were also not spared by the virus, and unfortunately two of my local volunteers succumbed to COVID when the virus was at its peak, and as a result we had to temporarily halt the relief work,” read the statement.

Rana Ayyub goes on to write that she had to undergo spine surgery in January 2021 after which the second wave of Covid-19 hit the country and she decided to restart the relief work.

His statement read: “I have started relief work again and also started talking to NGOs to set up a Covid medical facility, including a medical facility that was introduced to me by Ketto.

“As per Ketto’s procedure, all donors to my campaigns made donations to Ketto’s bank account, which, after deducting the processing fee, would forward the same for the relief campaign to the two designated bank accounts, which in turn would then transfer the entire amount received from Ketto to my bank account.”

Rana Ayyub also said that no foreign donations were made either to her account or those in the name of her father and sister.

“All donations were first received into Ketto’s bank account, which would send the proceeds of the relief campaign to designated accounts in Indian currency. My instructions to Ketto were that any money received in foreign currency should be returned to the donor , and the relief work was carried out with only national contributions,” she said.

Income Tax Department

In her statement, Rana Ayyub said she had received several notices from the Income Tax Department since June 2021. She wrote, “I have answered all questions with detailed answers supported by documents, invoices, invoices and bank statements.

Rana Ayyub also said that she has requested the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) not to tax the donations received for the relief works so that the entire amount can be used for the relief works.

His statement adds, “The Department of Income Tax, by order dated 07.08.2021, has decided to treat the donations as my ‘income’ and has provisionally attached my father’s bank account, my bank account and a fixed depot which was set up to establish a field hospital for Covid patients.

“However, after multiple visits to the income tax office submitting all supporting documents, the authorities decided to unblock my bank account and my father’s bank account on September 06, 2021, except for the fixed deposit .”

Rana Ayyub said she also paid Rs 1.05 crore as income tax on the amount received as a donation for the relief works.

“I was also informed informally that if I waived my right to appeal the order to levy a donation tax, the IT authorities would also unfreeze the fixed deposit,” she said in her statement, adding that she has now filed an appeal against the income tax department’s decision to treat donations as her “income” and tax it.

Stating that her appeal to the Income Tax Appeal Authority is still pending, Rana Ayyub wrote that she was notified by the Mumbai tax authorities on February 7 this year that her fixed deposit (FD) had been released from seizure and is now “allowed to operate in the same manner”.

Execution Directorate

In her statement, Rana Ayyub also referred to the investigation initiated against her by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Mumbai Area Office under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). .

Rana Ayyub said he submitted all relevant documents, bills, invoices and bank statements to the investigating agency.

“At the end of 2021, FEMA’s investigation of the Enforcement Branch, Mumbai Area Office, appears to have ended with no findings or orders against me. I have been informed orally that the Enforcement Branch, Mumbai Area Office, Mumbai area is no longer investigating the relief campaign,” the statement read.

He goes further by adding that in December 2021, Rana Ayyub was summoned by ED’s Delhi Zone-II office. It was in the context of a case to prevent money laundering (PMLA).

Rana Ayyub wrote, “I presented myself to the authorities and once again shared all the information that was requested of me. However, I have answered all questions fully and documented.

“It was during my interrogation by the ED in Delhi that I learned that the whole PMLA procedure was triggered by the FIR registered in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh by a member of the Hindu IT cell in August 2021.”

Rana Ayyub said the FIR, a copy of which she viewed on social media, alleges that she “violated FCRA regulations by accepting foreign money”.

The journalist added that this allegation was refuted by her bank statements, which show that she received no foreign donations and that all foreign donations received by Ketto were returned to the donors.

She goes on to write, “The exact same allegation, as made in this FIR, was the basis of the FEMA proceeding by ED’s Mumbai zonal office, which has since not been pursued after have answered all questions and submitted all documents I maintain that since I have received no foreign contributions as defined by the FCRA, and any income received from foreign sources is due to my professional fees permitted by FCRA law, I have committed no offense under the FCRA and the FIR recorded by the UP police on such allegations is completely without merit.”

PM CARES Fund, CM CARES

Rana Ayyub said her efforts to set up a makeshift hospital were taking too long, that’s when she decided to donate to a public hospital.

“To this end, I had come to an agreement with Save The Children Foundation to donate to the pediatric ward of Tilak Hospital, New Delhi. I had issued a check in the amount of Rs 90 lakhs for this case on August 20, 2021.

“However, on 08 September 2021, I was notified by Save The Children Foundation that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had refused to accept my donation and the check was returned to me.”

Rana Ayyub said in her statement, “As for reasons not disclosed to me, SDMC declined my donation, to ensure that the donated amounts do not remain unused, but are rather used to provide treatment and relief to affected families in need. , I have donated INR 74.50 lakhs to the CM CARES Fund Maharashtra, for relief work in my home state, and to the Fund PM CARES, for relief work across India.

“The various allegations reported by the media, which seem to be in possession of the provisional seizure order dt. 04.02.2022 of the ED, of which I do not have a copy, are completely unfounded, in bad faith and fanciful. “

“I have demonstrably demonstrated to the Department of Income Tax, as well as to two ED area offices, that none of the relief campaign money was used for other purposes.It is relevant that the only unused part of the fund, namely the fixed deposit of 50 lakhs, could not be used because it was provisionally seized by the income tax department of the 07.08.2021 to 07.02.2022,” the statement added.