New Delhi, June 3
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on June 13 in the National Herald money-laundering case linked to a 2012 private complaint filed by BJP's Subramanian Swamy in a Delhi court.
Sonia Gandhi summoned for June 8 in the same case may be called later since she tested Covid-positive on Thursday and seven-day isolation is mandated under the government protocol.
Rahul was earlier summoned for June 2 but sought extra time since he was abroad.
Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala termed the summons as "political vendetta” meant to divert attention from pressing national issues saying the Gandhis would appear for the questioning.
The Congress earlier described the matter as "a weird case of money-laundering in which no money is involved".
The case relates to Swamy's allegation that the Gandhis formed a shell company called Young Indian to illegally acquire assets of National Herald newspaper worth Rs 2,000 crore.
The assets belong to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), a firm that published National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938.
Swamy's case is that the newspaper closed down in 2008 after a Rs 90.25 crore Congress loan failed to revive it and in 2010 a new company called Young Indian with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul as directors was incorporated with just Rs 50 lakh but with rights to recover the Rs 90.25 crore debt.
"It is an open and shut case, with Sonia and Rahul owning 80 per cent shares of Young Indian. They maliciously acquired assets of AJL. It is a case of cheating and breach of trust,” Swamy said.
With Sonia and Rahul on bail in the matter since December 2015, the Congress asked why the ED took so long to act, having once even closed the case for want of substantive evidence in 2015.
In August 2015, the ED had decided to close the case but days later, then ED director Rajan Katoch was removed and the case reopened.
"Here is a strange case of alleged money-laundering without money. There is AJL which over the years published National Herald but commercially could not succeed. So the Congress, which believes in the values the newspaper propagates, gives Rs 90 crore as financial support. This makes AJL an indebted company and, like other companies would do, AJL converts its debt into equity. So Rs 90 crore debt is assigned to a new not-for-profit company called Young Indian which by definition cannot give dividends to shareholders or directors nor can make profits. Young Indian just holds AJL shares while AJL continues to hold profits as earlier. Even a kindergarten student will tell you there is no transfer of assets," Singhvi explained, saying Sonia was determined to face the ED.
The ED summons to the Gandhis are meant for questioning and recording of their statements under criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money laundering act in connection with the National Herald case.
The ED recently questioned Congress veteran Mallukarjun Kharge and party treasurer Pawan Bansal in the matter.
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