Mumbai; In a major setback to the Gandhi family, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday attached the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of National Herald newspaper, worth Rs 16.38 crore in Bandra, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The Bandra plot issue came under the spotlight after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a case accusing Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of trying to take over the National Herald’s properties.

ED has attached part of the nine-storey building at a prime location in Bandra. The attachment order was issued against the AJL and Moti Lal Vora, chairman cum-managing director.

The ED also launched a money laundering probe on allegations that plot number C-17, Sector 6 at Panchkula in Haryana was allotted to AJL in 1982 but was taken back by the Estate Officer, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) a decade later, October 30, 1992 since AJL did not comply with the conditions of allotment. According to the ED, the property was purchased after taking a loan fraudulently from Delhi’s Syndicate Bank.

The loan was secured by mortgaging a Panchkula property — already attached under a separate investigation — that was allotted to AJL in 1982. Despite repeated attempts, the Congress spokespersons were not reachable to get the party’s comment.

The ED had filed a PMLA complaint in this case in 2016 based on a CBI FIR, which had taken over investigations in this case at the request of the BJP government of Haryana, and the criminal FIRs filed by the Haryana Vigilance Bureau.

Last year in December, the CBI filed a charge sheet before a Panchkula court naming Vora and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in connection with the alleged irregularities in the case. The ED has questioned the two senior Congress leaders in this case and also filed a charge sheet against them in August last year.

Taking to Twitter, Subramanian Swamy said, "The new ED Director has begun well. ED today attached that monstrous illegality of a 10- storied luxury apartment building on a prized Bandra property given originally on concessional terms to publish National Herald newspaper. It was built by Congi office bearer with links to D."

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