ED asks Sonia to depose late July
STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: Accepting a request for postponing questioning in the National Herald money-laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate has asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to record her statement with the agency in the last week of July, officials said on Thursday.
The 75-year-old Congress president, who was supposed to depose before the agency on Thursday, wrote a letter seeking more time on the grounds that the doctors had “strictly advised her to rest at home following her hospitalisation on account of Covid and lung infection”.
Officials said she would be asked to record her statement in the last week of July. Gandhi was first issued notice for an appearance on June 8 but after she reported positive for COVID-19, a fresh notice for an appearance on June 23 was issued.
The Congress president was on Monday discharged from a private hospital in Delhi where she had been admitted for COVID-related complications. She was admitted to the hospital on June 12, days after testing positive for COVID-19 on June 2.
While she was in the hospital, the Enforcement Directorate questioned her son Rahul Gandhi for 54 hours in five days.
The Income Tax department, which had been investigating the National Herald case since 2016, had filed a charge sheet alleging financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper.
The move to question the Gandhis was initiated as 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, based on a private criminal complaint filed by Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
Sonia Gandhi and her son are among the promoters and majority shareholders of Young Indian with each having a 38 per cent stake in the company.
Swamy had accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds, with Young Indian paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) owed to the Congress. In February 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. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal were questioned by the ED in this case in April.
The Congress has accused the Centre of targeting the opposition leaders by “misusing” investigative agencies and has termed the entire action a “political vendetta”.