New Delhi [India]: Congress will hold press conferences across the country on Sunday in connection with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons issued to party interim president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.
The ED summoned Gandhi to appear before its investigators on June 8 in the case, while her son and former party chief, Rahul Gandhi, is to appear before the agency on June 13 in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald. However, the federal agency issued fresh summons to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to appear before it on June 23 in this case.
The agency issued the fresh summons as Gandhi did not appear before the investigators on June 8 due to Covid-19. The Congress leader had developed a mild fever on June 1 evening and was found Covid positive, the next morning.
The ED wants to record both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s statements under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The case, pertaining to the investigation of the alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA, was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of the Income Tax Department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
Swamy had approached the court alleging that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published the National Herald newspaper, were fraudulently acquired and transferred to the Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Sonia Gandhi and her son owned 38 per cent shares each.
The YIL promoters include Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Swamy had alleged that the Gandhis had cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the AJL owed to Congress.
Congress had argued that YIL was a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 that can neither accumulate profits nor pay dividends to its shareholders.
The federal agency’s move followed the questioning of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress Treasurer Pawan Bansal in April this year in New Delhi in connection with its money laundering probe into the National Herald case.
The agency then recorded the statements of both the Congress leaders under the PMLA.
The National Herald is published by AJL and owned by YIL. While Kharge is the CEO of YIL, Bansal is the Managing Director of AJL.
The ED is currently investigating the shareholding pattern and financial transactions as well as the role of party functionaries in the functioning of AJL and YIL.