Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

National Herald assets attached

Property worth Rs 751.90 cr attached in money laundering probe; Congress flays ED action

NEW DELHI:  In the midst of the election season, the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday provisionally attached assets worth Rs 751.90 crore in a money laundering case against Congress-promoted National Herald and entities linked to it, drawing sharp reaction from the party.  

“Investigation 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 is in possession of proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 90.21 cr in the form of investment in equity shares of AJL,” the ED said on Tuesday.

National Herald is published by AJL and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are Young Indian’s majority shareholders with a combined stake of 76%. The agency’s action comes at a time when elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, and Mizoram are in progress. 

The Congress said the move reflected the BJP’s desperation to divert attention from ‘certain defeat’ in the ongoing state polls. “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,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

The money-laundering probe stems from an order of Court of Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi, which took cognizance of a private complaint. The court held that the seven accused,  including Young Indian, committed offences under various sections of the IPC. ED’s provisional order has to be approved by the adjudicating authority of PMLA.

ED’s charges

  • AJL owed `90.21 crore to AICC, but the latter treated it as non-recoverable and sold the loan for Rs 50 lakh to a newly incorporated company called Young Indian
  • This action amounted to cheating the shareholders of AJL as well as donors of the Congress party
  • AJL then held an EGM to increase share capital and issue fresh shares worth Rs 90.21 crore to Young Indian
  • With this, the stake of over 1,000 shareholders came down to 1% and AJL became a subsidiary of Young Indian, which took control over properties of AJL

The New Indian Express