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ED questions Rahul Gandhi’s close aide on Saket Gokhale’s claims of receiving Rs 23.5 lakhs from Congress

Saket Gokhale, who is current with the Trinamool Congress, had revealed in his interrogation that he received Rs 23.54 lakhs from Alankar Sawai, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, on behalf of Congress.

On Friday, February 3, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s close aide Alankar Sawai. ED questioned Sawai in connection with its money laundering investigation of the financial irregularities of Trinamool Congress leader and ‘RTI activist’ Saket Gokhale while raising funds from a crowdfunding platform.

Reportedly, Rahul Gandhi’s close aide was questioned by ED after Gokhale, in his statement to ED, claimed that he had received Rs 23.54 lakh from Alankar Sawai to manage the Congress party’s social media presence. Alankar Sawai is reportedly heading Rahul Gandhi’s research team.

Over three days earlier this week in Ahmedabad, Sawai was interrogated and also confronted with Gokhale. “We are now confronting him with Gokhale to find out the truth,” an ED officer said.

When questioned about the 23.54 lakh deposited in his bank account in cash over a year, Gokhale told the agency that “this sum was given in cash by Alankar Sawai of the Congress Party for social media work and other consultancies,” the Enforcement Directorate informed an Ahmedabad court on January 25, when Gokhale was in the custody of Gujarat Police.

However, the ED has questioned Gokhale’s assertions as it claimed that Gokhale had received money from Sawai after joining the Trinamool Congress. Gokhale joined the TMC in August 2021, however, the money was deposited in his account in November 2021. Furthermore, according to the ED, Gokhale failed to offer any official documentation proving that he had received the funds from Congress, claiming that their agreement regarding the social media services was only “verbal.”

The Gujarat High Court Thursday this week dismissed the bail application filed by Saket Gokhale in the money laundering case. While dismissing the bail plea, the court observed that prima facie it appears that Gokhale had utilized the funds raised for his personal expenses. Noting that the case is of the nature of fraud and cheating and that the investigation is still going on and that the necessary evidence is to be recovered, the court denied bail to the TMC leader.

On December 29, Gokhale was arrested in Delhi by the Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch. Gokhale is accused of misappropriating ₹1.07 crore collected from the public through crowd-funding. Saket Gokhale was charged under sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust), and 467 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code.

TMC leader Saket Gokhale was arrested by the Gujarat Police in December last year for siphoning off money in the name of activism. The police had found accounts linked to Gokhale where he was receiving money, which he claimed was being used for legal fees for activism-related cases but was instead being used for personal expenses like intra-day trading in the stock market and for treatment of his family members as told by ED to an Ahmedabad court.

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