The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday questioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the third consecutive day in the National Herald money laundering case. He has been summoned again for questioning on Friday by the central probe agency.
His statement was recorded in multiple sessions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and after Wednesday’s round of questioning, he has clocked close to 30 hours with the ED investigators. Gandhi was questioned for over 11 hours on Monday and then another 10 hours on Tuesday.
The former Congress president has been called by the agency for the 4th day on June 17 as he sought an exemption for Thursday, which was granted by the ED, reported news agency PTI.
The 51-year-old leader was once again accompanied by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra when he arrived at the ED headquarters in central Delhi around 11.35 am.
Even as he was being questioned, Congress leaders and supporters continued with their vociferous protests amid which senior Rajasthan leader Sachin Pilot was also detained as he tried entering the AICC office. Despite no permission from police and prohibitory orders, protesters clashed with police across heavy barricading at the Congress headquarters.
Delhi Police, however, denied allegations of forcibly entering the party office and beating up functionaries. But, Congress leaders called out the ruling BJP for continuing its “vendetta politics” and conspiracy to falsely implicate as well as defame the Gandhi family.
The probe pertains to alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper. National Herald is published by the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Pvt Limited.
The questioning of the senior Congress leaders and the Gandhis is part of the ED’s investigation to understand the share holding pattern, financial transactions and role of the promoters of Young Indian and AJL.
The ED recently registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court here took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Pvt Ltd on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
The Congress party had called the ED action “vendetta”. It has termed the charges “fake and baseless” and added that the summons to the Gandhis was part of the BJP’s “vendetta politics”.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian.
Swamy, in his complaint, had accused Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds with Young Indian Pvt Ltd paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd owed to the Congress.
The Delhi High Court had in February last year issued a notice to the Gandhis for their response on Swamy’s plea seeking to lead evidence in the matter before the trial court.
The Gandhis had secured separate bails from the court in 2015 after they furnished personal bonds of Rs 50,000 and one surety. They, however, contended in the Delhi High Court that the plea by Swamy was “misconceived and premature”.
The other accused in this case filed by Swamy are close Gandhi aides Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda. They have earlier denied any wrongdoing.