The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday summoned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul Gandhi for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper, officials said. While Sonia Gandhi, 75, has been asked to depose before the federal agency on June 8, Rahul Gandhi is understood to have been asked to appear earlier. The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Pvt Limited.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said at a press conference that senior Gandhi will comply with the summons. "Rahul Gandhi will go if he is here or he may seek a fresh date," Singhvi added. The case to probe alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper was registered recently. The agency, officials said, wants to record the statements of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The agency had also recently questioned senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal as part of the investigation.
The questioning of the senior Congress leaders and the Gandhis is part of ED's investigation to understand the shareholding pattern, financial transactions, and role of the promoters of Young Indian and AJL, officials said. The agency registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court here took cognizance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Pvt Ltd. based on a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013. The first family of the Congress party, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian.
After the ED examined Kharge last month, the Congress whip in the Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore accused the government of "harassing" him. Tagore said the government wants to insult Dalit leaders and added that Kharge would not surrender to such tactics. BJP MP Swamy 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 party.
Last year, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Gandhis for their response to Swamy's plea seeking to lead evidence in the matter before the trial court. However, they contended in the Delhi High Court that the plea by Swamy was "misconceived and premature". Others accused in this case filed by Swamy are Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda. They have earlier said that they did nothing wrong.