Still suffering from Covid, Sonia seeks more time to appear before ED

The ED had also summoned her son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi on June 13 for questioning in the case.
Still suffering from Covid, Sonia seeks more time to appear before ED
Congress president Sonia Gandhi

NEW DELHI: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has sought more time from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to appear before it as she is still suffering from Covid, party sources said on Tuesday.

They said Gandhi, who tested positive on Thursday, is yet to recover and her latest report is not Covid-negative. The ED had summoned Gandhi to appear before it on June 8 in connection with a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper-AJL issue.

The ED had also summoned her son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi on June 13 for questioning in the case.

He was earlier asked by the agency to depose on June 2 but the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad constituency in Kerala sought a fresh date as he was out of country. The federal agency later asked Rahul Gandhi to appear on June 13 at its headquarters in central Delhi.

Congress leaders had earlier claimed that Sonia Gandhi is determined to appear before the ED provided she recovered from the virus.

The case pertains to the probe into the alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper. The paper is published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Pvt Limited.

Officials said the agency wants to record the statements of Rahul and Sonia Gandhi under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The questioning of the senior Congress leaders and the Gandhis is part of the ED's investigation to understand the shareholding pattern, financial transactions and role of the promoters of Young Indian and AJL, officials had said. The members of the first family of the Congress party, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian.

The probe agency had registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court here took cognizance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Pvt Ltd on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013. Swamy had accused Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds with Young Indian Pvt Ltd paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd owed to the Congress.

The ED summons triggered furious reactions from the Congress, which alleged that the ''fake issue of AJL, (Associated Journals Limited) is an attempt by BJP's propaganda machinery to deviate, divert and digress the attention of citizens from the multifarious vital issues of inflation, falling GDP and social unrest, social divisiveness in this country''.

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