New Delhi [India]: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Monday faced the questions of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering investigation in the National Herald case.
The 51-year-old politician, who entered the headquarters of the federal probe agency in central Delhi around 11 am after starting from the Congress office on Akbar Road, was accompanied by a large convoy of party leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. He is being questioned by an Assistant Director level officer– the investigating Officer of the case– being supervised by a Deputy Director and a Joint Director.
Another officer is learnt to be typing Gandhi’s statement which is being recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ED wants to know from the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad in Kerala regarding alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL) that owns the National Herald newspaper.
From shareholding pattern to transfer of AJL assets into YIL and various other unanswered questions linked are yet to be unearthed by the ED in the case.
The ED is also investigating the financial transactions as well as the role of party functionaries in the functioning of AJL and YIL.
National Herald is published by the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by YIL.
The ED will also question Rahul Gandhi’s mother and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi regarding which it recently issued her fresh summons to appear before it on June 23 in the case.
The case to investigate alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of an 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 AJL were fraudulently acquired and transferred to 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 cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to Congress.
Congress 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.
Calling it a case of political vendetta, senior Supreme Court advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi had said, “This is truly a very weird case — an alleged money laundering case on which summons are issued with no money involved.”
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 and then 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.
Meanwhile, all roads leading to the ED office in central Delhi are still barricaded by the police amid heavy deployment of Rapid Action Force personnel.
The Delhi Police has imposed provisions of Section 144 Code of Criminal Procedure to prohibit assembly and entry of people on roads leading to the ED headquarters in Pravaratan Bhawan on APJ Abdul Kalam Road.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Traffic Police had issued an advisory for residents of the national capital asking them to avoid certain roads in wake of the proposed march that will be carried out by the Congress party from its headquarters to the ED office where Rahul Gandhi is being questioned.