The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday, November 22, said that it had attached properties worth Rs 751.90 crore in a money-laundering case against Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL), which owns various publications, including the National Herald.
The investigation agency claimed that both Congress-linked organisations were ‘beneficiaries’ of proceeds of crime, and the assets included immovable properties. The ED said that its probe in the money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) revealed that “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.”
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, on Tuesday, trained his guns at BJP and said that it was a clear indication of the saffron party's panic in the ongoing elections and their attempt would fail. “Reports of attachment of AJL's properties by the Enforcement Directorate are a clear indication of the BJP's panic in the ongoing elections,” Kharge wrote on X.
“Staring at defeat in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram, the BJP government feels compelled to misuse its agencies. This attempt too will fail and the BJP will be defeated in the polls,” he said. The Congress leader said, “This pattern of misuse of agencies during elections by the BJP establishment is not new and now stands fully exposed before the entire nation.”
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "Reports of attachment of AJL properties by ED reflects their desperation to divert attention from certain defeat in the ongoing elections in each state."
He said that PMLA action could only be “consequential to some predicate or main offence.”
“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, who is also an eminent lawyer said.
The ED registered a case of money laundering based on a process issued by a Delhi Court after taking cognisance of a private complaint vide order dated June 26, 2014. The court held that seven accused people, including Young India, prima facie, committed offences of criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, dishonest misappropriation of property and criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code. The court held that the accused hatched a criminal conspiracy to acquire properties worth hundreds of crores of AJL through a special purpose vehicle, Young Indian. The ED said that AJL was given land on concessional rates in various cities of India to publish in newspapers.
“AJL closed its publishing operations in 2008 and started using the properties for commercial purposes. AJL had to repay a loan of Rs 90.21 crore to the All India Congress Committee (AICC), however, the AICC treated the said loan of Rs 90.21 crore as non-recoverable from AJL and sold it for Rs 50 lakh to a newly- incorporated company Young Indian without any source of income to pay even Rs 50 lakh,” the ED said.
“By their action, the shareholders of AJL as well as donors of the Congress were cheated by the office-bearers of AJL and Congress Party,” the ED claimed.
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