ED summons Sonia Gandhi, son Rahul in National Herald money laundering case

Congress has denied charges, says "nothing against Gandhis"

FPJ BureauUpdated: Wednesday, June 01, 2022, 11:30 PM IST
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Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi | PTI

The Enforcement Directorate has summoned both Congress President Sonia Gandhi (75) and her son Rahul Gandhi (51) for alleged money laundering in the National Herald case.

Sonia has been asked to appear at the ED headquarters on June 8 for questioning, while Rahul has been asked to appear at the earliest.

Both are promoters and shareholders of Young India.

Founded by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, among others, National Herald became a mouthpiece of the Congress after Independence. The newspaper had to shut down operations in 2008 with a debt of over Rs 90 crore. Trouble mounted for the Congress when in 2013, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a Delhi trial court, shedding light onto transactions allegedly made by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi involving National Herald.

The case is regarding allegations of cheating, conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust in the acquisition of the Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which ran the National Herald newspaper, by Young Indian Pvt Ltd.

According to Swamy, the Gandhis bought properties owned by National Herald by acquiring Associated Journals Limited through Young Indian Pvt Ltd.

The Congress party on Wednesday said both Gandhis will comply with the ED summons, which it claimed were issued on concocted and false grounds.

Senior Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, told a Press conference, along with chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, that the charge of money laundering is nothing but politically motivated and false.

Where is the case of money laundering when there is no transfer of money or property, Singhvi asked, pointing out that the legal heat is on against the National Herald since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.

The case only involved conversion of debt into equity to pay off dues like salaries, the Congress spokesperson said, accusing the government of trying to deflect attention from "real issues" like inflation. Singhvi said the case was closed in 2015 by the Enforcement Directorate but the government removed the officials concerned, brought in new officials, and reopened the case.

Both Singhvi and Surjewala said: "We shall not be frightened by such devious acts of ED. We shall face them courageously as the truth will never buckle under."

Singhvi said the Congress had given loans totalling Rs 90 crore to the Associated Journals Limited, which had spent Rs 67 crore in clearing the employees' dues; the balance went towards paying rent, electricity bills and upkeep of building. He said any loan given by a political party is neither a crime nor illegal, and this was also clarified by the Election Commission in its letter dated November 6, 2012.

For want of income from the National Herald, the Associated Journal transferred its shares to Young India, a "not-for-profit" company. Singhvi said Young India's managing committee members -- Sonia, Rahul and late Congress treasurer Motilal Vora -- can't take profit, dividend or salary; nor can they sell its shares. This is to underscore that National Herald, Associated Journal and Young India are not only Congress assets but actually the nation's assets.

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