An adjudicating authority in cases related to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has given approval to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take possession of a plot in Haryana’s Panchkula worth Rs 64.93 crore belonging to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), publisher of the National Herald newspaper, a mouthpiece of the Congress party. AJL is owned by Young India, in which Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are major stakeholders.
ED, which investigates violations of foreign exchange regulations and suspected money laundering, provisionally attached the plot on December 1 last year. Under the PMLA, the ED can issue an order provisionally attaching any property that it suspects may be linked to proceeds of crime; the attachment is confirmed by a quasi-judicial authority.
On the day the plot was attached, the CBI too had filed a charge sheet against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and senior Congress leader Motilal Vora.
The ED said in a statement on Wednesday: “The PMLA Adjudicating Authority has held that defendants have committed the scheduled offence, generated proceeds of crime and further found that the properties attached are proceeds of crime beyond any doubt and thereby ordered for confirmation of the provisional attachments order.”
However, Hooda said: “ The decision to restore an institutional plot at Panchkula to AJL at old rates was within my powers as the chairman of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). The decision was also ratified by the Authority. The plot was restored after charging an interest amounting of over Rs 55 lakhs on the allotment price of Rs 2 lakhs…”
May 30, 2019 00:10 IST
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