It is intriguing to note that the current Congress top leadership and Gandhi family members — Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka — are not listed as shareholders of Associated Journals.
However, Young Indian is the largest shareholder of Associated Journals and Sonia and Rahul are directors of that company. The other directors listed are Mallikarjun Kharge, Pawan Bansal, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda who are all also shareholders in Associated Journals.
Congress leader Jitendra Singh said, “Equity shares were allotted as per procedures… there is no money laundering as payment was through cheque and this is to muzzle the voice of the people which Congress has been raising from the last 8 years.”
Shakti Singh Gohil, Congress spokesperson said, “There is no mala fide intention. The newspaper was started to fight for Independence. It was reeling under financial stress. Congress helped it and the case is subjudice, so if there had been any corruption court should have taken a view on it.”
Randeep Surjewala added, “We have responded to all queries from many days, so don’t want to indulge into it again and again.”
Nehru family names, including Indira Nehru Gandhi, Feroz Gandhi, Vijaylakshmi Pandit are listed as shareholders of Associated Journals which is under the scrutiny of the investigating agencies.
Among the other shareholders listed are Congress stalwarts Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Purushottam Das Tandon, Rajni Patel, Jitendra Prasad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Pawan Kumar Bansal. Others include Prakash Narain Sapru, S. Venkitaramanan, Kesoram Cotton Mills, Abid Hussain.
When contacted, Congress General Secretary, K.C. Venugopal said, “There is no violation of laws and everything done is permissible in law. Venugopal alluded to political vendetta and said Young India is a non-profit company and there is no money laundering. “We will fight it out”, he said.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Young India is a non-profit entity. Sonia ji is a director. No profit can be taken nor has she taken in this case. If there is any profit it is invested in the company.”
Jyotsna Suri and the late Lalit Suri hold 50,000 shares each of Associated Journals which brings out the National Herald of the Congress party.
The Young Indian is the largest shareholder of Associated Journals. Harbans Lal Malhotra and Sons holds 16,000 shares while Rameshwar Thakur is shown to hold 26,510 shares.
Scindia Investment, Mohan Meakin hold 5,000 shares each. Others include a mix of Congress leaders past and present or those who have been close to the Gandhi family.
Some of the shareholders include Dr K.N. Katju, Vijay Darda, Sushmita Dev, Manickam Tagore, Syed Sibtay Razi, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda, Oscar Fernandes, Motilal Vora, J.B. Dadachandji, H.Y. Sharada Prasad, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sucheta Kripalani, Sheila Dikshit among others.
Pawan Kumar Bansal is Chairman and Managing Director of Associated Journals.
The Enforcement Directorate has been questioning Rahul Gandhi at its office in the national capital.
The Enforcement Directorate had summoned Rahul Gandhi and party chief Sonia Gandhi in connection with the National Herald case for allegedly misappropriating funds. Sonia Gandhi will appear before the financial probe agency on June 23.
The genesis of the controversy started with the acquisition of shares of Associated Journals Limited (AJL) on January 26, 2011. The AJL was incorporated as a public limited company on November 20, 1937 under the Indian Companies Act, 1913, for the purpose of publication of newspapers in different languages.
AJL started publishing newspapers such as National Herald in English, Navjivan in Hindi and Quami Awaz in Urdu. The publication of newspaper was suspended on various occasions due to financial difficulties and certain labour problems. On April 2, 2008, the newspaper was closed.
The properties were allotted for carrying out newspaper business and publication of newspapers in different languages. However, it was also allowed to let out these properties on rent to cater to its publication business post-closure of the newspaper.
The office of AJL was shifted from Lucknow to Delhi on September 1, 2010 at its Delhi property situated at 5A, Herald House, Bahadurshah Zafar Marg, New Delhi. In this chain of events, the All India Congress Committee (AICC), an Apex Body of the Indian National Congress, had advanced loans to AJL from time to time.
In other words, AICC assigned the loan outstanding in the books of AJL at Rs 50,00,000 to Young Indian. Further, almost 99.99 per cent shares of AJL were transferred to Young Indian. On December 13, 2010, in the first Managing Committee meeting of Young Indian, Rahul Gandhi was appointed as director.
In a nutshell, the National Herald case pertains to the assignment of a Rs 90 crore loan advanced by the Congress party to Young Indian for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh. It has been alleged that there was a misappropriation of assets of over Rs 2,000 crore.