Property seized in money laundering probe linked to Indian opposition’s Gandhis

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s money laundering investigators on Tuesday said they seized properties worth 7.52 billion Indian rupees ($90.34 million) in a probe linked to a nine-year-old complaint against opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia.

The complaint, lodged by a member of parliament from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, accused the Gandhis of forming a shell company and illegally gaining control of property worth $300 million.

The property belonged to a firm that published the National Herald newspaper, founded in 1937 by India’s first prime minister and Rahul Gandhi’s great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru.

The seized assets include properties spread across Indian cities including New Delhi and Mumbai as well as investments in equity shares, the Enforcement Directorate said in a statement.

The Congress party, however, termed the move “petty vendetta tactics”.

“This is a prefabricated structure of deceit, lies and falsehood, of by and for the BJP, to divert, distract and digress in the middle of elections,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in a statement referring to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Five Indian states are voting to elect new legislatures this month. The regional polls are key, coming ahead of national elections due next year.

($1 = 83.2440 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)