Congress Fumes as ED Summons Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi for Questioning. All About the Money Laundering Case

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her lawmaker-son Rahul Gandhi were served notices by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday over the National Herald case, which was registered recently to probe alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper.

While 75-year-old Sonia Gandhi has been asked to depose before the agency on June 8, Rahul Gandhi will be asked to appear earlier. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said at a press conference that the senior Gandhi will comply with the summons. “Rahul Gandhi will go if he is here or he may seek a fresh date,” Singhvi added.

The questioning of senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal and the Gandhis is part of ED’s investigation to understand the share holding pattern, financial transactions and role of the promoters of Young Indian and AJL, officials said. The agency registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court here took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Pvt Ltd on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

News18 takes a look at the case and its details:

Founded by freedom fighters, including former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1938, National Herald became a mouthpiece of the Congress after Independence. The newspaper had to shut down operations in 2008 with a debt of over Rs 90 crore.

Trouble compounded for the Congress when in 2013, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a Delhi trial court, throwing light onto the transactions allegedly made by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi involving National Herald. According to Swamy, the Gandhis bought properties owned by National Herald by acquiring AJL through Young Indian Pvt Ltd.

This triggered a probe by the Income Tax Department to launch a probe and it is the ED which is investigating Associate Journals Ltd (AJL), the holding company of the National Herald newspaper, and the role of various Congress leaders under the anti-money laundering law since 2016.

According to the agency, the accused in the case — including former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda and late Congress leader Motilal Vora — “used the proceeds of crime” in the form of a land plot allotted illegally to AJL in Panchkula and pledged it to avail loan from a Syndicate Bank branch (Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg) in Delhi for constructing a building in Mumbai’s Bandra area. Valued at Rs 16.38 crore, this property was attached by the ED in 2020.

The central government in 2018 served an eviction notice to AJL, ending the perpetual lease granted to it for Herald House on Delhi’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. However, the Supreme Court in April 2019 ordered a stay on proceedings initiated against the erstwhile publisher of National Herald under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.

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