National Herald case: Congress to hold press conferences across country today

12 June, 2022 | Pravina Srivastava

ED summons Cong' party interim president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case

In response to the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) summons issued to party interim president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case, the Congress will hold press conferences around the country today.

Gandhi has been summoned to appear before the ED’s investigators on June 8, while her son and former party chief, Rahul Gandhi, has been ordered to appear on June 13 in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald. In this case, however, the federal office issued a new summons to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, who is scheduled to appear before it on June 23.

Gandhi did not appear before the investigators on June 8 due to Covid-19, therefore the agency issued a new summons.

On June 1 evening, the Congress leader suffered a minor fever and was pronounced Covid positive the next morning.

The ED wants to record both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s comments under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act’s criminal sections (PMLA).

The case was initiated around nine months ago after a trial court took cognizance of an Income Tax Department inquiry based on a private criminal complaint submitted by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

Swamy has gone to court stating that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of the National Herald daily, had been fraudulently acquired and transferred to the Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Sonia Gandhi and her son each held 38 percent.

Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, and Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President, are among the YIL’s supporters. Swamy claimed that the Gandhis defrauded and stole funds, alleging that YIL paid only Rs 50 lakh for the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore due to Congress by the AJL.

Under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, Congress contended that YIL was a not-for-profit corporation that could neither accrue profits nor pay dividends to its stockholders.

The decision comes after the federal agency questioned senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress Treasurer Pawan Bansal in April in New Delhi as part of its money laundering investigation into the National Herald issue.

Under the PMLA, the agency then recorded the statements of both Congress leaders.

AJL publishes the National Herald, which is owned by YIL. YIL’s CEO is Kharge, whereas AJL’s Managing Director is Bansal.

ED is currently looking into the shareholding structure and financial transactions of AJL and YIL, as well as the role of party functionaries in their operations.