The Enforcement Directorate [ED] has issued an order to provisionally attach properties worth Rs 751.9 crore in a money-laundering case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act [PMLA], 2002. Investigations revealed that 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 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.
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.
“This is a prefabricated structure of deceit, lies and falsehood, of by and for the BJP, to divert, distract and digress in the middle of elections.
No BJP coalition partner-CBI, ED or IT-can prevent certain impending defeat of the BJP. An assignment of loan without transfer of any immovable property or movement of money is being dressed up to justify attachment and freezing of assets of a company which runs an iconic voice of the Indian independence movement the National Herald-only because it is linked to the Congress party and its legacy,” the statement read further.
Congress leader Manickam Tagore said, “The action of the ED under orders of Mr Modi to take away properties of the National Herald is an illegal action…People of MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana will give a befitting reply to PM Modi.”
What Is The National Herald Case?
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 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 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 senior Congress leaders were summoned by the ED for questioning. The Congress leaders, however, have denied any misappropriation of funds. Tey said that the transactions were lawful and aimed at reviving the National Herald newspaper.