The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday searched a dozen locations, including the main office of the Congress-owned National Herald newspaper in Delhi, as part of its investigation into a money-laundering case, PTI reported.
Herald House on Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in central Delhi is registered in the name of Associated Journals Limited, which publishes the newspaper.
Officials said the raids are being conducted under the sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to “gather additional evidence with regard to the trail of funds”.
The development came after the central agency questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for three days last month. Her son and former party chief Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for 50 hours over five days in connection with the case in June.
On Tuesday, officials told PTI that the searches were being conducted because of fresh evidence obtained by the Enforcement Directorate after questioning “various people” related to the case.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh criticised the raids, saying it was “vendetta politics against those who speak up against the Modi government”.
The case against Gandhis
The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Private Limited. It was founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru before he became India’s first prime minister.
In April 2008, the paper suspended operations as it had incurred a debt of over Rs 90 crore. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of setting up the Young Indian Private Limited firm to buy the debt using the funds from the Congress.
In his complaint before a trial court, Swamy accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate the funds. He has alleged that the Young Indian firm paid only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associate Journals Limited owed to the Congress.
The party had loaned the amount to Associated Journals Limited on an interest-free basis, according to court records. The Congress has claimed that there was no money exchange and only conversion of debt into equity took place to pay off dues like salaries.