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ED quizzes Kharge for eight hours in National Herald probe

Source: PTI
August 04, 2022 22:41 IST
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The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday carried out raids at the office of Young Indian and questioned Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for more than seven hours as part of an ongoing money laundering probe linked to the National Herald case, officials said.

IMAGE: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge leaves the Young Indian office, the holding company of Congress-owned newspaper National Herald, after being quizzed by the ED, New Delhi, August 4, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

The 80-year-old Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha reached the Herald House building at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg near ITO around 12:40 pm and met ED officials on the summons of the agency which sought his attendance during the raids at Young Indian (YI) in his capacity of being the main office-bearer of the company.

Kharge was seen leaving the building, along with members of his personal staff, around 8:30 pm.

The senior Congress leader told reporters while leaving that he "cannot make a statement as this is an investigation".

Young Indian is the holding company of Congress promoted National Herald newspaper. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are among the YI's promoters and majority shareholders. Like her son, the Congress chief too has 38 per cent shareholding.

The federal agency had put a temporary seal at the single-room office of the YI, located on the ground floor of the four-storey Herald House building, to "preserve evidence" as it could not search it during the last two days because it was locked and authorised representatives were not available.

The officials said ED questioned Kharge and recorded his statement under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in his capacity as the CEO and principal officer of YI. They also took his signatures on the search and seizure memo.

Kharge, who was questioned by the ED at its headquarters in April, had then said that he gave "evidence" to the agency during his deposition.

Senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said the action against Kharge was "nothing but harassment" as he called it the "height of political vendetta by Modi Sarkar".

The office of the National Herald newspaper and web portal, where the editorial and administrative staff work, is located on the fourth floor of the Herald House building.

The National Herald newspaper is published by Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) and YI is its holding company. The newspaper office is registered in the name of AJL.

The ED had on Tuesday launched raids at a dozen locations, including at the Herald House, as part of its ongoing money laundering probe into the National Herald-AJL-Young Indian deal.

Agency officials had left the premises in the early hours of Wednesday after they collected some documents and digital data, and questioned some staffers.

The agency had also 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 party leader Pawan Bansal in April.

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