TMC's Saket Gokhale used crowdfunding money for 'wining, dining', says ED; summons Rahul Gandhi's aide for questioning

TMC's Saket Gokhale used crowdfunding money for 'wining, dining', says ED; summons Rahul Gandhi's aide for questioning

The funds included over ₹23 lakh in cash from an aide of the Congress' Rahul Gandhi.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, January 26, 2023, 10:44 AM IST
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The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Saket Gokhale, a spokesperson for the Trinamool Congress, wasted more than ₹1.07 crore that had been raised through crowdfunding for charitable causes on drinking, dining, and other personal expenses. The funds included over ₹23 lakh in cash from an aide of the Congress' Rahul Gandhi.

𝐄𝐃 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐆𝐨𝐤𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐞'𝐬 𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐒𝐚𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢 𝐣𝐚𝐢𝐥

The agency, which is looking into the misappropriation of cash, brought the allegations before a Gujarat court on Wednesday after taking the 35-year-old into custody from the Sabarmati jail.

In connection with the alleged irregularities in the crowdfunding project, the Gujarat police detained Gokhale twice in three days in December, and then lodged him into jail. The special court ordered him to be held in ED custody until January 31.

𝐑𝐚𝐡𝐮𝐥 𝐆𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐡𝐢'𝐬 𝐚𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐝

As per sources, Rahul Gandhi's aide Alankar Sawai has also been summoned by the agency. Saket Gokhale, durung his questioning with the ED, said he received ₹ 23.54 lakh in cash from Alankar Sawai for handling social media. Sources said Gokhale collected a total of ₹ 1.07 crore through crowdfunding between 2019-2022 and spent the amount on personal expenses.

Meanwhile, Alankar Sawai has cited the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra and demanded more time from the ED to appear before it.

Rahul Gandhi's close aide Sawai, a former banker, is in charge of the Congress MP's research team. According to Press Trust of India, when asked why Alankar Sawai paid him in cash, Mr. Gokhale responded, "Only Alankar Sawai can answer this question."

𝐆𝐨𝐤𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐩𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭, 𝐬𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐧 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐬: 𝐄𝐃

According to the agency's testimony before the court, Mr. Gokhale allegedly created a phoney electronic document under the name of an organisation called "OurDemocracy.in" through which he allegedly collected money from the complainant and other individuals using a private company called GiantTreeTech Private Limited.

The ED stressed that the money "has been splurged on speculative share trading, wining and dining and other personal expenses which appear to be extravagant in nature".

Gokhale, in response, denied the allegations that he used money for personal expenses. Gokhale said he invested the funds in share market so he doesn't have to raise additional funds.

The ED told the court that Mr Gokhale is "not cooperating".

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