The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday attached assets worth Rs 751.9 crore belonging to Associated Journals as part of its money laundering probe into the National Herald case.
The attached properties include the National Herald houses in Delhi and Mumbai as well as the Nehru Bhavan in Lucknow. The properties attached by the central probe agency are reported to be worth Rs 752 crore.
“ED has issued an order to provisionally attach properties worth Rs. 751.9 Crore in a money-laundering case investigated under the PMLA, 2002. Investigation revealed that M/s. Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) is in possession of proceeds of crime in the form of immovable properties spread across many cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Lucknow to the tune of Rs. 661.69 Crore and M/s. Young Indian (YI) is in possession of proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs. 90.21 Crore in the form of investment in equity shares of AJL,” the ED posted on X.
The statement added that a provisional order has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the newspaper’s publisher Associated Journals Ltd. and its holding company Young Indian.
The case is based on a 2013 Delhi court complaint submitted by Subramanian Swamy of the BJP. In relation to Young Indian Pvt Ltd's acquisition of Associated Journals Limited, there are accusations of fraud, conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust. The trial court granted bail to Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in December 2015.
Reacting to the ED's move, the Congress said that it was just the BJP's "petty vendetta tactics". In a statement, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that this reflected the BJP's "desperation to divert attention from certain defeat in the ongoing elections in each state". "There is no transfer of any immovable property. There is no movement of money. There are no proceeds of crime. Indeed, there is no complainant who claims to have been cheated: not a single one," Singhvi stated.
The National Herald Case revolves around financial transactions involving Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) and Young Indian, entities linked to the Indian National Congress (INC) party. The case came to the limelight when BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy brought in allegations of irregularities in the acquisition of the debt of AJL by Young Indian, a company in which senior Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, held prominent positions. Swamy also submitted a complaint in Delhi Court in 2013.
Swamy alleged that Young Indian acquired AJL's debt at a significantly lower cost, thus promoting financial irregularities and misuse of funds. Swamy accused the Congress leaders of criminal conspiracy and cheating. He claimed that the Congress leaders illegally acquired properties owned by AJL, including the National Herald's headquarters in New Delhi.
Last year, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and other top Congress members were summoned by the ED for questioning. Despite the allegations, the Congress leaders have maintained that the transactions were legal and intended to revive the National Herald newspaper, denying any misuse of funds.
Image source: PTI