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The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday temporarily sealed the office space of Young Indian (YI) company in the premises of Congress-owned newspaper National Herald in Delhi as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation, official sources said.
The seal was put in order to "preserve the evidence" which could not be collected as authorised representatives of YI were not present during the raids that were launched on Tuesday, they said.
The rest of the National Herald office is open for use, the sources added.
A notice affixed under signature of the ED investigating officer outside the YI office space said it cannot be opened "without prior permission" from the agency.
Officials said the ED team had emailed the summons to the principal officer/in-charge of YI, which is senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, seeking their attendance to open the cabins for it to carry out raids but they have not received any response, so far.
Kharge, the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, had visited the Herald House building on Tuesday evening along with party colleague Pawan Bansal but he left and the search could not be conducted, they said.
As and when the authorised person (for YI) presents themselves for concluding the search, the seal will be lifted, officials said.
The ED had on Tuesday raided a dozen locations, including the National Herald newspaper and web portal office in Herald House at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg near ITO as part of its money laundering probe in the National Herald-AJL-Young Indian deal.
The agency sleuths left the premises in the wee hours of Wednesday after they collected some documents, digital data and questioned some staffers.
The National Herald newspaper is published by Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) and its holding company is Young Indian. The newspaper office is registered in the name of AJL.
The agency recently carried out the high-profile questioning of Congress president Sonia Gandhi (in July) and her MP son Rahul Gandhi (in June) in this case at its headquarters in Delhi apart from that of Kharge and Bansal in April.
The Congress has said it gave a Rs 90 crore loan to an ailing AJL between 2001-02 and 2010-11 and later, in 2011, the shares of AJL were allotted to Young Indian and this debt was converted into equity and the loan was extinguished in the books of the AJL.
The ED claims these transactions attract anti-money laundering charges as a complex web of transactions and routing of funds were undertaken by the party and its leaders to acquire AJL's assets worth multiple crores of rupees.
The Gandhis are understood to have told the ED during their separate questioning sessions that no personal assets were made in the Congress-AJL-National Herald deal as Young Indian was a "not-for-profit" company established under section 25 of the Companies Act.
They also told the ED that AJL continues to have possession of all its assets and Young Indian neither "owns or controls" these properties.
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.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: Wed, August 03 2022. 18:16 IST