The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Karnataka Congress President D K Shivakumar for questioning in its ongoing money laundering probe into the operations of the Congress party-owned National Herald newspaper, official sources said. He has been asked to depose before the federal investigative agency on October 7 in Delhi, they said.
The 60-year-old former cabinet minister was last questioned by the federal agency on September 19 in the national capital in another money laundering case linked to alleged possession of disproportionate assets. The latest summons comes at a time when the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of the Congress party, led by its leader Rahul Gandhi, entered Karnataka on Friday, September 30, and will be in the state for 21 days.
Shivakumar is involved in the conduct of this leg of the yatra. While exiting the ED office after his questioning last month, he had told the waiting mediapersons that he has been charge-sheeted by the agency in one money laundering case but he does not know what is the new case (disproportionate assets) against him.
“Surprisingly, they (ED officials) have asked me about the payment from one of my trusts from me and my brother to Young Indian,” he had told reporters. Young Indian is the company that owns the news organisation.
Shivakumar also said he has sought more time from the agency to furnish details about his assets and liabilities to them. The former Karnataka minister said he believed in the “law system” and knew that he will get justice.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her MP son Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal have been questioned by the ED over the last few months in the National Herald money laundering case. The agency has also issued summons to a number of Congress leaders from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for questioning in the Herald after it was found that they allegedly made payments to Young Indian.
Their depositions are slated between October 3-10 at the ED office in Delhi, sources said. Shivakumar was arrested by the agency on September 3, 2019 following multiple rounds of questioning in a case that emerged from an Income tax department action against him. The Delhi High Court had granted him bail in October that year.
In May this year, the agency filed a charge sheet against him and some others linked to him in this case. The case was registered after taking cognisance of a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department against them in 2018 before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief, and his alleged associates of transporting huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through ‘hawala’ channels with the help of three other accused. The Kanakapura MLA played an instrumental role in ensuring the safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017 amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, the late Ahmed Patel, had fought the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat in 2017 and Shivakumar had hosted 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs at the resort to keep the flock together. The ED had questioned his daughter Aishwarya too in this case after she was summoned to appear in Delhi.