NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to appear before it on July 21 in the National Herald case.
Official sources said that Sonia Gandhi has been asked to be deposed before the investigators at its headquarters here around 11 am on July 21.
The fresh summon was issued as Sonia Gandhi could not join the ED investigation in the case due to COVID-19. The agency had earlier issued similar summons to Sonia Gandhi as she did not appear before the investigators on June 8 and then June 21 due to COVID-19.
The Congress leader had developed a mild fever on June 1 evening and was found COVID-19 positive upon testing the next morning.
The ED had on June 1 summoned Sonia Gandhi to appear before its investigators on June 8 in the case for the first time in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald. The ED wants to record both Sonia Gandhi's statements under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED last month questioned Rahul Gandhi on several occasions in the case. 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 former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
Swamy had approached the court alleging that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published the National Herald newspaper, were fraudulently acquired and transferred to Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Sonia Gandhi and her son owned 38 per cent shares each.
The YIL promoters include Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Swamy had 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.
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. Calling it a case of political vendetta, senior Supreme Court advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi had said, "This is truly a very weird case -- an alleged money laundering case on which summons are issued with no money involved."
The federal agency's move followed the questioning of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress Treasurer Pawan Bansal in April this year in New Delhi in connection with its money laundering probe into the National Herald case.
The agency then recorded the statements of both the Congress leaders then under the PMLA. The National Herald is published by AJL and owned by YIL. While Kharge is the CEO of YIL, Bansal is the Managing Director of AJL. The ED is currently investigating the shareholding pattern and financial transactions as well as the role of party functionaries in the functioning of AJL and YIL.