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Sonia Gandhi appears before ED for second round of questioning

The 75-year old was questioned for over two hours during her first day of questioning in the case on July 21 where she replied to 28 questions
Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi
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Our Web Desk   |   Published 26.07.22, 11:05 AM

  • Sonia Gandhi leaves ED office after about 2.5 hours of questioning in money laundering case, to return after lunch​​​​, reports PTI

The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for the second time in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper, prompting her party to stage protests against the alleged misuse of central agencies.

Elaborate security arrangements were in place as Sonia Gandhi reached the federal agency's office in central Delhi around 11 am accompanied by Z+ armed security and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. While Priyanka Gandhi stayed back at the ED office, Rahul Gandhi left soon after. He led Congress MPs at a protest in Vijay Chowk, close to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and was detained by police.

Priyanka Gandhi was in another room at the ED office so she could meet her mother to provide her medicines or medical assistance if necessary, officials said.

The questioning and recording of the 75-year-old Congress president's statement is understood to have begun at 11:15 am after initial formalities, including the verification of summons and signing the attendance sheet, were completed.

Officials said all Covid appropriate protocols were in place like they were on July 21 when she was questioned for the first time. Two doctors and an ambulance were stationed, investigators had Covid negative certificates and proper physical distancing between Sonia Gandhi and the team of investigators was observed.

Sonia Gandhi was questioned for over two hours on July 21. She replied to 28 questions put forth by the agency. The Lok Sabha MP from Rae Bareli is understood to have been asked questions pertaining to her involvement with the National Herald newspaper and the company under scanner in the case--Young Indian Pvt Ltd.

Tuesday's questioning session could see the agency asking some questions on the functioning and running of the newspaper, the role of its various office bearers, and her and her son's participation in the affairs of the National Herald and Young Indian.

The agency will also match her statement with that of Rahul Gandhi as both are majority stakeholders in Young Indian, officials said.

The questioning of the Gandhis pertains to the charge of alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper.

The Congress has slammed the agency's action against its top leadership and termed it "political vendetta".

Delhi Police deployed a huge force, including CRPF and RAF personnel, and barricaded the entire over one kilometre stretch between her residence and the ED office. Traffic restrictions were also imposed in the area.

The ED questioned Rahul Gandhi last month in sessions that clocked over 50 hours over five days.

The move to question the Gandhis was initiated after the ED late last year registered a fresh case under criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

This was after a trial court here took cognisance of an Income Tax department probe against Young Indian based on a private criminal complaint by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are among the promoters and majority shareholders in Young Indian. Like her son, the Congress president too has 38 per cent shareholding.

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 Associate Journals Limited owed to the Congress.

In February last year, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Gandhis seeking their response on Swamy's plea.

Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal were questioned by the ED in the case in April.

The Congress has maintained there has been no wrongdoing and Young Indian is a "not-for-profit" company established under section 25 of the Companies Act and hence there can be no question of money laundering.

It is understood that Rahul Gandhi, during his deposition before the ED, stuck to the position that there was no personal acquisition of assets by himself or his family.

According to the ED, assets worth about Rs 800 crore are "owned" by the AJL and the agency wants to know from the Gandhis how a not-for-profit company like Young Indian was undertaking commercial activities of renting out its land and building assets.

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