The Congress MP, who was questioned for the third consecutive day over Young Indian (YI), a company controlled by the Gandhi family taking over the assets of AJL, disclaimed personal knowledge of transactions being investigated for alleged money laundering in the light of a report of the income tax department. “He has denied having any knowledge of the loans or accommodation entry taken by the Young Indian, blaming everything on Vora, who is no more,” ED sources said. When approached for a response, Congress secretary Pranav Jha told TOI: “proceedings of the ED are of judicial nature and leaking them is a criminal offense. Therefore, we will not comment on it.”
Rahul’s questioning will continue on Friday as he sought exemption on Thursday.
Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi, the Congress chief, together hold 76% stakes in Young Indian and the remaining 24% was held by Vora and Oscar Fernandes (12% each).
Vora and Fernandes passed away in December 2020 and September 2021, respectively.
The ED sources denied the suggestion that it was not letting Rahul leave until 11pm out of any design. “He leaves late because after every three hours of questioning, the Congress leader takes 3-4 hours of break to ‘review’ his responses… effectively, we have been getting only around six hours to question him,” the source said.
While Rahul’s questioning will resume on Friday, Sonia has been summoned on June 23 for questioning in the case after she sought deferment because of contracting Covid. ED had issued summonses to them after recording statements of Congress functionary Mallikarjun Kharge and party’s present treasurer Pawan Bansal in April. Kharge and Bansal are also office bearers in YI and AJL.
Meanwhile, chaos continued on the streets of central Delhi with Congress workers indulging in arson and violent protests, breaking police bandobast while trying to march towards the ED office at APJ Abdul Kalam Road. Rahul, as usual, appeared after 11am at the agency on Wednesday and took a lunch break for an hour before rejoining the probe at 4pm.
Sources said the probe shows that after YI’s acquisition of AJL, two of YI’s founders Suman Dube and Sam Pitroda, exited as a shareholder transferring their shares to Sonia and Fernandes. “This resulted in the transfer and control of the YI in the hands of Sonia and Rahul, both majority shareholders, having shareholding of 38% each and their close associates Motilal Vora and Fernandes each having 12% shares each,” the probe report said.
Both AJL and YI had common set of directors who were also the office bearers of Congress which “helped these entities in carrying out transactions among them with great speed even without following a logical sequence of transactions as a prudent businessman, prima facie leading to irresistible conclusion that these transactions were pre-determinate, preplanned and stage managed”.
YI was founded with Rs 5 lakh and didn’t have the financial resources to take over the AJL having debts of Rs 90 crore, owed to Congress. “Since, the YI did not have any funds at the time of alleged purchase of a loan of Rs 90.21 crore it claimed taking a loan of Rs 1 crore from Dotex Merchandise Pvt Ltd, a Kolkata based shell company,” according to the ED dossier.