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Sonia Gandhi to appear for questioning today; Priyanka, Rahul likely to accompany her to ED office

The Congress interim leader has been asked to depose before the investigators at the ED office around 11 am today in an alleged money laundering case.

By Newsd
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Ahead of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi appearance Thursday before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the National Herald case, her daughter party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra arrived at her residence and is likely to accompany the veteran leader to the probe agency’s office here. Sonia Gandhi’s son MP Rahul Gandhi is also likely to accompany her to the ED office, sources said. Meanwhile, Congress workers raised slogans at the party office, extending their support to party chief.

The Congress interim leader has been asked to depose before the investigators at the ED office around 11 am today in an alleged money laundering case. Congress leaders and MPs had met here on Wednesday evening and decided to hold protests across the country against the BJP-led government’s “vendetta politics”. The party has also planned to gherao ED offices across the country.

Police in the national capital have made elaborate arrangements and have barricaded Akbar Road, where the Congress headquarters are located. Delhi Police today issued a traffic advisory as major routes in the city are being diverted and barricades have been set up. The ED had on June 1 summoned Sonia Gandhi to appear before its investigators on June 8 in the case for the first time in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald.

The agency had issued similar summons to Sonia Gandhi investigators on June 8 and then on June 21. Sonia Gandhi could not appear for questioning after testing positive and being hospitalised for Covid-19. The Congress leader had developed a mild fever on June 1 evening and was found COVID-19 positive upon testing the next morning. After her discharge from hospital, she had asked for more time to appear before the agency.

The ED wants to record both Sonia Gandhi’s statements under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Last month the ED had questioned Rahul Gandhi on several occasions 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 in 2013. The petitioner 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 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 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 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.

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

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