Updated: Wed, 15 Jun 2022 01:47 PM IST
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the third consecutive day of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case.
During the questioning, 51-year-old Rahul was confronted with several documents collected by the ED as evidence. Quoting sources, news agency ANI reported that Rahul was asked about the ownership of Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) by the Gandhi family and its shareholding pattern in Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
The YIL runs the National Herald newspaper.
He was also asked about the circumstances under which AJL was acquired by YIL in 2010, making it the owner of all assets owned by the National Herald newspaper, according to ANI.
Who owns the National Herald?
The National Herald newspaper was started by India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938 as part of the country's freedom struggle against the British government. K Rama Rao was its first editor.
It also had Hindi and Urdu editions named Navjeevan and Qaumi Awaz.
In 1937, Associated Journals Limited (AJL) was founded with 5,000 freedom fighters as its shareholders. The company, owned by the YIL, now publishes the National Herald newspaper. In 1942, it was banned by the British government due to the Quit India movement, but it got reopened in 1945.
In 2008, the paper got shut down due to financial reasons, but was relaunched in 2016 as a digital publication.
What is the National Herald case?
The case pertains to the alleged misappropriation of funds of more than Rs 2,000 crore in an equity transaction.
In 2010, YIL with Rs 5 lakh was incorporated with Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi as its directors. The company had pledged to do charity but it did nothing till 2016.
As per allegations, AJL's 9 crore shares (99 pc of all) were also transferred to YIL with Rahul alone holding 75 per cent of them. It is also alleged that Congress gave AJL Rs 90 crore loan which it wrote off in lieu of alleged ownership of AJL assets worth Rs 2,000 crore.
However, Congress claims that loan was given to pay salaries of AJL staffers and to save National Herald and that YIL is a not-for-profit company and its ownership still vests with AJL.
"YIL can't pay dividends to shareholders and not a penny has moved. How can there be money laundering without any money changing hands," the party said.
In 2013, a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP's Subramanian Swamy. 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.
He also alleged that the Gandhis cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to the Congress. However, 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.
(With inputs from ANI)