The Gandhi Memorial International Foundation, also known as the Mahatma Gandhi International Foundation, is a controversial non-profit organization run by Yogesh K. Gandhi, originally born Yogesh Kothari, who claims to be related to Mahatma Gandhi. However, an immediate descendant of Mahatma Gandhi, publicly stated that Yogesh K. Gandhi is a "scam artist", and "interested primarily in enriching himself." Yogesh Gandhi described the organization as dedicated to "social betterment through nonviolence."
The organization's business dealings were investigated by the United States Senate, in March 1998. Mother Jones referred to the organization as: "a shadowy non-profit enterprise devoted in principle to 'promoting the philosophy of non-violence'." On March 8, 1999, Yogesh Gandhi was charged by the United States Department of Justice with "tax evasion, mail and wire fraud and perjury" for dealings related to the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation. He had previously been indicted by the Justice Department's Campaign Financing Task Force in August 1998. In 1999, Yogesh Gandhi entered a guilty plea to the charges of mail fraud, tax evasion and violating federal election law over his contributions involving the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation and the Democratic National Committee in 1996.
Yogesh Gandhi was charged with mail fraud by the United States Department of Justice. Prior to the charges, Gandhi had presented Bill Clinton with the "Gandhi Peace Award" accompanied by a bust of Mohandas Gandhi, and had his picture taken with the president.
In 1987, Gandhi gave an award to Ryochi Sasakawa, an individual the United States Senate investigation referred to as "a controversial, wealthy Japanese businessman who was jailed by the Americans after World War II for suspected war crimes and has been accused of links to organized crime and extreme rightists." A year after Sasakawa received the Gandhi award from Yogesh Gandhi, Sasakawa donated $500,000 to the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation. In 1988 the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation gave Werner Erhard its "Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award.
This award was also given in 1995 to Hogen Fukunaga, an individual that a United States Senate investigation described as "a Japanese multimillionaire who runs a controversial religious organization in Japan and faces multiple legal problems in Japan from people claiming to have been defrauded by his organization." According to SF Weekly: "Tanaka, a Japanese health-food magnate, would channel money Fukunaga had raised through his huge Japanese cult following to Gandhi, who would use his phony Gandhi Memorial Foundation to bribe world leaders, who would then help elevate Fukunaga's stature."