ED interviews Rahul for the 3rd day in a row; make an audio-video recording

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before the ED on Wednesday for the third consecutive day of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case, with the agency seeking answers about his “personal role” in taking decisions regarding the media organization and its owner Young Indian.

Gandhi (51) arrived at ED headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road in central Delhi at around 11:35 a.m. with his “Z+” category CRPF security escort.

He was accompanied by his sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as his convoy sped past police barricades crowded with journalists and party supporters.

A huge contingent of police and paramilitaries has been deployed around the office of the federal agency, and restraining orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) are in effect.

The interrogation began at noon and the ED video and audio recorded Gandhi’s statement during the three days of sessions.

His statements are typed on A4 sheets and are carefully examined by him and signed before being transmitted to the investigator.

Gandhi, agency sources told PTI, is being asked about assets worth around Rs 800 crore “held” by AJL and how a non-profit company like Young Indian (YI) was engaged in the business of leasing its land and real estate assets. .

The Congress party claimed that there was no FIR or intended offense in this case, based on which a PMLA case was filed and Gandhi and his Congress President mother were summoned.

Officials said the ED action is on a ‘higher pedestal than FIR-based proceedings’ because the court has seen the tax department’s indictment on income filed in the case and published the process.

They said ICC Sections 120B (criminal association) and 420 (cheating) applied in the computer case are “predicate offences” that allow the ED to register a money laundering case.

ED investigators said the money laundering offense as defined in section 3 of the PMLA is being applied by the ED to investigate Gandhi’s role in this whole matter where “while there is no movement of money but that the proceeds of crime have been generated and some people have benefited from it”.

Section 3 of the PMLA states that anyone who directly or indirectly attempts to engage in or knowingly aids or is knowingly a party to or is actually involved in any process or activity relating to the proceeds of crime and projecting it as intact property shall be guilty of money laundering offence. .

The officials also contradict the claim of the Congress party and even Gandhi who maintained that YI was a non-profit corporation and no one can benefit from personal funds or shares of the corporation.

Violation of any law is an offense and in this case the IT department charge sheet and PMLA Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) state that the provisions of a non-profit corporation profit were breached, officials said.

Gandhi clocked more than 24 hours in multiple question and answer sessions over the past two days at the ED office.

Officials said Gandhi’s interrogation could not be completed on Tuesday, and therefore he was asked to continue recording his statement on Wednesday.

About 15 to 16 questions about the incorporation of the YI Company, the operations of the National Herald newspaper, the loan granted by Congress to the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and the transfer of funds within the media establishment of Information has been posed to Gandhi during the interrogation has unfolded so far, sources said.

They said Gandhi’s role and detailed statement in the case is vital as he is a “major shareholder” in YI and an “important person” in the affairs of the AJL and the National Herald.

It is understood that the agency asked him about the assets held by AJL.

Gandhi was also reportedly asked about a loan of Rs 1 crore taken out by YI from a Kolkata-based company in February 2011 and the rationale behind it.

The questions posed to Gandhi, the sources said, start from the year 2011 when YI was incorporated. It was also learned that the questions related to changes in the company’s shareholding scheme subsequently, the procedures followed and the salaries and VRS granted to journalists working in the organization, among other issues.

Congress has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, saying YI is a nonprofit corporation established under Section 25 of the Corporations Act.

The party said the AJL, which was established in 1937, was facing huge debts and Congress, from 2002 to 2011, gave Rs 90 crore to the National Herald newspaper, of which Rs 66 crore went to been used to pay journalists’ salaries/VRS. and the employees who worked there.

The rest of the money was handed over to the government as a pending rental amount for assets held by AJL, its electricity and construction expenses and council tax, the spokesman said. Congress, Randeep Surjewala.

Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal were questioned in the case recently, and Kharge said he provided “evidence” to the agency during his interrogation.

The investigation relates to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, owner of the National Herald newspaper.

The newspaper is published by AJL and is owned by Young Indian Private Limited.

Rahul Gandhi’s mother and Congresswoman Sonia Gandhi, who is currently admitted to a hospital here due to Covid-related issues, was also summoned by the agency for questioning in the case on June 23.

The ED recently filed a new case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court heard of an investigation by the Department of Income Tax against YI based on a complaint. private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian.

Swamy had accused Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and embezzle funds, with YI only paying Rs 50 lakh for the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL owed Congress.

In February last year, the Delhi High Court gave notice to the Gandhis for their response to Swamy’s plea, seeking to produce evidence in the case in the Magistrate’s Court.

The Gandhis had secured separate bail from the court in 2015 after providing personal bonds of Rs 50,000 and bail.

However, they had argued in the High Court that Swamy’s plea was “ill-conceived and premature”.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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