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Rahul Gandhi vs ED: Here's what happened so far

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Satyagrah March from All India Congress Committee (AICC) Headquarters to Enforcement Directorate (ED) office to appear before ED after being summoned in the National Herald case, at AICC Headquarters in New Delhi. (HT_PRINT)Premium
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Satyagrah March from All India Congress Committee (AICC) Headquarters to Enforcement Directorate (ED) office to appear before ED after being summoned in the National Herald case, at AICC Headquarters in New Delhi. (HT_PRINT)

Rahul Gandhi is being questioned about the ownership of Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) by the Gandhi family and its shareholding pattern in Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company that runs the National Herald newspaper, said sources.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on 20 June was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for around 14 hours on the fourth day of his appearance before it in the National Herald money laundering case.

As per the PTI report, the ED has called Gandhi to rejoin the questioning again on 21 June, for the fifth day now.

The Lok Sabha member from Wayanad in Kerala arrived at ED headquarters at around 11.10 am on Monday accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi. 

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the ED for over 27 hours for three straight days from June 13 to June 15. 

The Congress leader was deposed before the ED investigators in the case for the first time on June 13. 

He first sought exemption from appearance on June 16, following which he was called on June 17. But the senior Congress leader wrote to the ED to postpone his questioning citing the illness of his mother Sonia Gandhi. 

The ED then allowed him to join the probe on June 20 at his request. 

Rahul Gandhi is being questioned about the ownership of Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) by the Gandhi family and its shareholding pattern in Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company that runs the National Herald newspaper, said sources. 

In a complaint in the Delhi High Court, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy accused Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds.

Rahul Gandhi's mother Sonia Gandhi has also been summoned by the ED to appear before the investigators in the case on June 23.

Meanwhile, the Congress held a 'Satyagraha' against the Centre's Agnipath scheme and questioning of Rahul Gandhi by the ED, saying the government has "betrayed" the youth with the new military recruitment model and is indulging in "vendetta politics" by targeting the former party chief.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, party's leader in the Lok Sabha Adir Ranjan Chowdhury, senior leaders Sachin Pilot, Salman Khurshid, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal took part in the protest, which saw the participation of over 500 people.

Speaking at the sit-in at Jantar Mantar, Gehlot attacked the government, saying it spoke about bringing back black money and promised jobs but nothing materialised.

"They’re selling off every asset of the country instead. They’re trying to scare Congress and Rahul Gandhi by misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ED and the Income Tax department. But it is the BJP and the NDA government who are scared. Everyone is worried and no one knows where this country is headed," Gehlot said.

Addressing the gathering, Congress leader Sachin Pilot appealed to the youth to maintain peace and not indulge in violence and vandalism.

The central government has betrayed the Army and the youth of this country, he alleged. "Now that Rahul Gandhi is raising voice against the Modi government, they’re trying to scare him by misusing ED and CBI. They only want to deceive the country and the youth. These protests are also a mark of unity in this country," Pilot said.

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda said the country is going through troubled times.

He said the entire party is standing with Rahul Gandhi against the alleged politicisation of investigative agencies which is "weakening" democracy.

The National Herald, started by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was published by the AJL. In 2010, the AJL, which faced financial difficulties, was taken over by a newly-floated YIL with Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as directors, both of them Gandhi loyalists. 

There are allegations that AJL was founded in the 1930s to print National Herald and had 5,000 freedom fighters as shareholders. 

AJL is now in Gandhi's family ownership. AJL declared in 2008 that it would not print newspapers anymore and will enter real estate. 

In 2010, a new firm called YIL is incorporated with 5 lakh and with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi among other Congress leaders as directors. It pledges to do charity but does none till 2016, as per allegations. 

It is also alleged that AJL's 9 crore shares (99 pc of all) are transferred to YIL and that Rahul Gandhi alone holds 75 per cent shares while Sonia and other senior Congress own the rest. 

The case to investigate alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013. Swamy had approached the court alleging that the assets of AJL were fraudulently acquired and transferred to YIL, in which Sonia Gandhi and her son owned 38 per cent shares each. 

Swamy had alleged that the Gandhis cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover 90.25 crore that AJL owed to Congress. 

Congress argued that YIL was a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 that can neither accumulate profits nor pay dividends to its shareholders. 

The agency then recorded the statements of both the Congress leaders and then under the PMLA. While Kharge is the CEO of YIL, Bansal is the Managing Director of AJL.

What is the National Herald newspaper money laundering case?

National Herald newspaper was started by the first Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The newspaper was first published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL).

Later the AJL was facing financial difficulties in 2010, when it was taken over by a newly-floated YIL with Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as directors, both of them Gandhi loyalists.

This arose as a case of money laundering when Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Indian economist Subramaniam Swamy complained against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and other of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds.

The National Herald corruption case is the ongoing case in a Delhi court against politicians Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, their companies and associated persons.

As per the complaint filed in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Associated Journals Limited (AJL) took an interest-free loan of 90.25 crore (US$12 million) from Indian National Congress. It is alleged that the loan was not repaid. A closely held company, Young Indian, was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of 50 lakh (US$66,000) and it acquired almost all the shareholding of AJL and all its properties (alleged to be worth 5,000 crore (US$660 million). Swamy alleged criminal misappropriation by both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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