Rahul Gandhi is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today as part of a money-laundering inquiry into the National Herald case.
The 51-year-old politician was accompanied by a large convoy of party leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who arrived at the federal probe agency’s headquarters in central Delhi around 11 a.m. after leaving the Congress office on Akbar Road. He is being interrogated by an Assistant Director level officer, who is also the case’s investigative officer, and is overseen by a Deputy Director and a Joint Director.
According to reports, another officer is typing Gandhi’s statement, which is being recorded under Section 50 of the Money Laundering Prevention Act (PMLA).
ED is seeking information from a Lok Sabha member from Wayanad in Kerala about suspected financial irregularities at the Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), which owns the National Herald daily and is sponsored by the party.
However it has still to discover a number of unsolved questions in the case, ranging from shareholding patterns to the transfer of AJL assets to YIL.
Meanwhile, ED is also looking into financial transactions and the participation of party officials in the AJL and YIL’s operations.
Associated Journals Limited publishes the National Herald, which is owned by YIL.
Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi’s mother and Congress interim president, will also be questioned by the ED, which has issued her a new summons to appear before it on June 23.
A trial court took cognizance 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. The case to investigate alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognizance 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
Swamy had filed a lawsuit stating that AJL’s assets were fraudulently obtained and transferred to YIL, in which Sonia Gandhi and her son each held 38 percent of the company.
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 of 1956, Congress argued that YIL was a not-for-profit corporation that could neither accrue profits nor pay dividends to its stockholders.
“This is certainly a very strange case — an alleged money laundering case on which summons are issued with no money involved,” veteran Supreme Court counsel and Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi had said, describing it as a case of political retribution.
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.
The CIA then recorded both the Congress leaders’ statements and filed them under the PMLA. AJL publishes the National Herald, which is owned by YIL. YIL’s CEO is Kharge, whereas AJL’s Managing Director is Bansal.
Meanwhile, police have sealed all routes leading to the ED office in central Delhi, despite a huge presence of Rapid Action Force members.
The Delhi Police have used Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to stop anyone from gathering and entering the ED headquarters in Pravaratan Bhawan on APJ Abdul Kalam Road.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi Traffic Police issued a warning to residents of the national capital, advising people to avoid specific roads in anticipation of the Congress party’s planned march from its headquarters to the ED office where Rahul Gandhi is being questioned.