The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has questioned senior Congress leader Motilal Vora and former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda in connection with its money laundering probe into alleged irregularities in the allotment of a plot to AJL, publisher of the National Herald newspaper, in Panchkula in 2005. Officials said while Vora (88), the national treasurer of the All India Congress Committee, was questioned two days back at his residence here, Hooda was also questioned during the same time in Chandigarh. The central agency has recorded the statements of the two Congress leaders under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
They were also confronted with some documents seized and recovered in this case, officials added. Vora was questioned in the case in his capacity as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Associated Journal Limited (AJL), they added. The ED questioned Vora at his residence making a special concession in this regard owing to his old age and his request to be grilled at home. The agency, early last year, had filed a criminal complaint and booked Hooda, AJL officials and others on charges of alleged money laundering, taking cognisance of a Haryana State Vigilance Bureau FIR.
The vigilance Bureau had registered a case of cheating and corruption against Hooda and four officials who were in HUDA for allegedly re-allotting a plot to AJL in Panchkula in 2005. Hooda had then termed the action as “political vendetta” and said there was no wrong doing. The vigilance case that was registered under various IPC sections, including criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, criminal conspiracy and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, was made against Hooda, the then Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) chairman, an ex-officio post held by him as the CM, and four other top officials of HUDA on May 5 this year.
The plot had been initially allotted to AJL in 1982.
After the expiry of the lease period in 1996, then Haryana Vikas Party government led by Bansi Lal took back its possession. It was re-allotted to AJL after the Congress leader came to power in 2005.
The Vigilance Bureau had alleged that the act by the then HUDA chairman and the officials had caused a huge financial loss to HUDA as the plot should have been sold through open auction instead of being alloted again to AJL.