New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth ₹751 crore belonging to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and Young Indian (YI) in its money laundering probe into the affairs of Congress-run National Herald newspaper, the agency said on Tuesday.
While immovable properties worth ₹661 crore belonging to AJL have been attached in Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow, YI’s proceeds of crime have been attached in the form of equity shares.
“Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has issued an order to provisionally attach properties worth ₹751.9 crore in a money-laundering case investigated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Investigation revealed that M/s Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) is in possession of proceeds of crime in the form of immovable properties spread across many cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow to the tune of Rs. 661.69 crore and M/s. Young Indian (YI) is in possession of proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs. 90.21 Crore in the form of investment in equity shares of AJL,” ED said in its statement.
The agency initiated money-laundering investigation against National Herald on the basis of process issued by the court of Metropolitan Magistrate of Delhi after taking cognisance of a private complaint vide order dated June 26, 2014.
The ED statement said on Tuesday that court held that seven accused persons including M/s Young India, prima facie committed offences of criminal breach of trust u/s 406 of Indian Penal Code, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property under section 420 (cheating) of IPC, dishonest misappropriation of property u/s 403 and criminal conspiracy u/s 120B of IPC.
The court, it added, held that accused persons hatched a criminal conspiracy to acquire properties worth hundreds of Crores of AJL through a special purpose vehicle, Young Indian.
“AJL was given land on concessional rates in various cities of India for the purpose of publishing newspapers. AJL closed its publishing operations in 2008 and started using the properties for commercial purposes. AJL had to repay a loan of ₹90.21 crore to All India Congress Committee (AICC), however AICC treated the said loan of Rs.90.21 Crore as non-recoverable from AJL and sold it for Rs.50 lakh to a newly incorporated company Young Indian without any source of income to pay even ₹50 lakh,” ED said.
“By their action, the shareholders of AJL as well as donors of Congress Party were cheated by the office bearers of AJL and Congress Party,” ED alleged.
The ED probe has revealed that after purchasing the loan of ₹90.21 crore from AICC, YI demanded either repayment of loan or allotment of equity shares of AJL to it.
“AJL held an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and passed a resolution to increase share capital and issue fresh shares worth ₹90.21 crore to YI. With this fresh allotment of shares, shareholding of more than 1000 shareholders was reduced to a mere 1% and AJL became subsidiary company of YI. YI also took control over properties of AJL,” ED said on Tuesday.