New Delhi: How much has Young Indian Limited earned in rent over the past few years on properties acquired from Associated Journals Limited (AJL) in Indore, Panchkula, Delhi and Mumbai, and how has this money been spent? Was the money used for charitable purposes? If so, for which associations? Where is the file of the alleged loan of Rs 90 crore which was granted by the Congress party to AJL?
These are some of the questions the Law Enforcement Directorate (ED) asked Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi for five days, as part of its investigation into the alleged money laundering case involving national heraldThePrint learned.
Founded by freedom fighters, including former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1938, national herald became a spokesman for Congress after independence. The newspaper had to shut down in 2008 with a debt of over Rs 90 crore.
The national herald The case concerns the alleged misappropriation of assets, worth more than Rs 2,000 crore, in a share transaction.
There are allegations of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust in the 2010 acquisition of national herald the AJL publisher of Young Indian Pvt Ltd, in which the Gandhis – Rahul and his mother and Acting Congresswoman Sonia Gandhi – are said to have a majority stake.
young indian, started in 2010is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under special provisions of the Companies Act.
While Rahul Gandhi was interrogated for over 10 hours one day for five days between June 13 and June 21, Sonia Gandhi was also summoned by the agency for questioning in the case on June 23.
However, Sonia would have postponement request, citing health problems, which was accepted by the ED. She has now been asked to appear before the agency in the last week of July. Sonia is believed to be recovering from Covid and a lung infection.
Many members of Congress spoke out against the action of the ED.
Earlier this week, Congress Spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi claims ED’s action was “unlawful and unconstitutional”, and alleged that the BJP was “bred in its rage and that is why it made ED its cage”.
“Rahul Gandhi has been called upon time and time again to divert the nation’s attention, to keep all the cameras focused on this charade at the ED office and to ensure that the issues that deserve attention, be it Agnipath, be it rising prices, be it unemployment, remain camouflaged and hidden,” Singhvi said.
Senior Congressman P. Chidambaram said interrogates the ED probes saying there was “no money transaction” in this case, and that the money laundering offense requires “money” and “money laundering”.
Rahul Gandhi himself has says that he is unaffected by “the ED and those agencies”, and that “the officers who interrogated me understood that a Congress party leader cannot be scared and suppressed”.
Read also: ‘Hawala, buying land with proceeds of crime’ – why ED arrested Delhi minister Satyendar Jain
“Does not only concern physical transactions”
According to ED sources, since the Indian boy ‘fraudulently’ acquired properties from AJL worth Rs 800 crore and uses and possesses them, it becomes an ‘offence under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)” and that is what is being investigated.
Section 3 of the PMLA states that anyone who attempts directly or indirectly to “engage or knowingly assist or knowingly is 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 the offense money laundering”.
A source from ED said that “the offense of money laundering is constituted if a person directly or indirectly attempts to engage in or knowingly assists or is knowingly a party to or is actually involved in any process or activity relating to any derivative property or obtained as a result of criminal activities as defined in the PMLA Schedule”.
“As a result, it is deliberately misleading to convey to people that the money laundering offense only relates to the movement of money in and out of the country,” the source added.
“There are AJL properties in Mumbai, Panchkula, Bhopal, Indore, Delhi which are used to generate revenue, where is all this money going?” ask the source.
The source also said that the Supreme Court has declared that any activity related to the proceeds of crime falls under section 3 of the PMLA. In the national herald case, the source added, the ED investigation is focused on Section 3 of the Act.
“It is common knowledge that these properties which previously belonged to AJL were fraudulently acquired by Young Indian, of which the Gandhis are shareholders and that these properties were used for business purposes to earn rent,” the source said. .
“Furthermore, it is apparent from the findings of the Income Tax Department, the Income Tax Appeals Tribunal and the Delhi High Court that in this case real estate of AJL of more than 800,000,000 rupees was taken back fraudulently by an Indian boy belonging solely to the Gandhi family, dishonestly and committing the offense of cheating as part of a criminal conspiracy,” the source said.
In 2013, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy deposit a complaint in a Delhi Magistrate’s Court (the Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court), alleging dealings allegedly made by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi involving national herald.
The allegations against the Gandhis prompted the Income Tax Department to launch an investigation into the matter. The Delhi Magistrate’s Court issued summonses to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and both were later released on bail in 2015.
The ED source also claimed that although Young Indian is a non-profit company, it has not carried out any charitable activities since 2010 but has engaged in business activities.
“This charitable society of which the Gandhis are the main shareholders has made money. Rents from buildings in prime locations have accrued to this society, but nothing has been used for charitable purposes. So where has How much money Young Indian makes from these rents is what we asked the defendant in this case,” the source said.
“From what we have found in the investigation, it is untrue to say that the profit from these properties is going to charitable purposes,” the source added.
According to sources, Rahul Gandhi was also asked about the Rs 90 crore loan the All India Congress Committee allegedly granted to AJL and what was done with the money.
It is said by Congress that the AJL received a ready of more than Rs 90 crore over a period of time and to offset this loan he converted his debt into equity and sold it to Young Indian. However, there is no record of the loan payments, according to ED sources.
“A legitimate investigation”
Speaking on Congressional leaders’ allegations that the ED opened an investigation without a predicate offense and, therefore, it is illegal, sources said since a court had already heard of the cheating offense and of criminal conspiracy in the matter, and the Gandhis were out on bail, there was no FIR required for the emergency to begin an investigation.
Congress Leader Randeep Surjewala previously said the ED action was based on a private complaint and that ED summonses could only be based on an FIR and were therefore illegal.
“Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court has already taken cognizance of the breaches of Sections 403, 406, 420, 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which led to the takeover of AJL properties by Young Indian (and ) have issued subpoenas to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others who are currently out on bail. So why is an FIR needed to launch a probe?” the ED source quoted above asserted.
According to the source, the magistrate in charge of this case had taken note of the offense provided for in article 204 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) and issued a summons to appear because he considered that there was sufficient cause.
The source claimed that an appeal was also filed by the Gandhi family against the magistrate’s judgment in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, which were dismissed.
The ED source said that a breach of Sections 420 and 120B is an offense under the PMLA and that Young Indian has repossessed these properties worth more than Rs 800 crore as a result of these breaches (since acquisition of AJL is questioned and an investigation had been ordered by the court in this regard), as a result, this amount of Rs 800 crore (value of properties) becomes “proceeds of crime” under the PMLA , and is therefore a “legitimate case”.
(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)
Read also: ED summons Rahul Gandhi a punch for Congress. For executives, this creates a problem