New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi is expected to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday for her second round of questioning in the money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.
She is expected to depose before the federal probe agency around noon on July 26 for recording of her statement by the ED investigating officer, officials said.
Initially, she was summoned by the agency on Monday but it was deferred by a day.
The 75-five-year old Gandhi was questioned for over two hours during her first day of questioning in the case on July 21 where she replied to 28 questions put forth by the agency, that is probing alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper.
Officials said that like it was on the first day of her appearance, all Covid-appropriate protocols will be put in place Tuesday as well such as stationing of doctors and an ambulance, ‘Covid negative’ certificates of investigators and proper physical distancing between Gandhi and the team of investigators.
Gandhi’s children Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi are expected to accompany her to the ED office again like they did last week.
Vadra may again stay back in order to provide any medicines and other medical care, if required.
The Congress has slammed the agency’s action against its top leadership and termed it “political vendetta”.
The Delhi Police is also expected to deploy a huge force, including CRPF and RAF personnel, and barricade the entire over one kilometre stretch between her residence and the ED office.
The move to question the Gandhis was initiated after the ED late last year registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
This was after a trial court here took cognisance of an Income Tax department probe against Young Indian based on a private criminal complaint by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are among the promoters and majority shareholders in Young Indian. Like her son, the Congress president too has 38 per cent shareholding.
Swamy had accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds, with Young Indian paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Limited owed to the Congress.
In February last year, the Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Gandhis seeking their response on Swamy’s plea. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal were questioned by the ED in the case in April.
The Congress has maintained there has been no wrongdoing and Young Indian is a “not-for-profit” company established under section 25 of the Companies Act and hence there can be no question of money laundering.
It is understood that Rahul Gandhi, during his deposition before the ED, stuck to the position that there was no personal acquisition of assets by himself or his family.
According to the ED, assets worth about Rs 800 crore are “owned” by the AJL and the agency wants to know from the Gandhis how a not-for-profit company like Young Indian was undertaking commercial activities of renting out its land and building assets.