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ED issues fresh summons to Rahul Gandhi for June 13

ED issues fresh summons to Rahul Gandhi for June 13
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New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued fresh summons to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, asking him to appear before it on June 13 for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper, officials said on Friday.

He was earlier asked by the agency to depose on June 2 but the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad seat in Kerala sought a fresh date as he was out of the country.

Officials said Rahul Gandhi, 51, has now been asked to appear on June 13 at the headquarters of the federal agency in central Delhi.

His mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, 75, has also been asked to depose before the agency on June 8. Though she tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, the Congress party has said that she was determined to appear before the agency on the scheduled date.

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 Gandhi 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.

BJP MP 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".

"The Modi government should know that by registering such fake and fabricated cases, they cannot succeed in their cowardly conspiracy," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi had told reporters.

The agency recently questioned senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal as part of the investigation.

After the ED examined Kharge last month, the Congress' whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore accused the government of "harassing" him.

The Delhi High Court in February last year issued a notice to the Gandhis for their response to Swamy's plea seeking to lead evidence in the matter before the trial court.

The Gandhis had secured separate bails from the court in 2015 after they furnished personal bonds of Rs 50,000 and one surety.

They, however, contended in the Delhi High Court that the plea by Swamy was "misconceived and premature".

The other accused in this case filed by Swamy are Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda. They have earlier denied wrongdoing.

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