Trinamool Leader Used Crowdfunding Money On “Wining, Dining”: Probe Agency

Saket Gokhale has been placed in ED custody till January 31 by a special court.

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale allegedly splurged more than Rs 1.07 crore collected through crowdfunding for social causes, on wining, dining and other personal expenses, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed. The money included over Rs 23 lakh in cash from an aide of Congress’s Rahul Gandhi.  

The agency, which is investigating the funds misuse, made the claims before a Gujarat court on Wednesday after it arrested the 35-year-old from the Sabarmati jail.  

Mr Gokhale was lodged in the jail by the Gujarat police, who arrested him twice in three days in December, in connection with the alleged irregularities in the crowdfunding initiative. He has been placed in ED custody till January 31 by the special court.

Sources said the agency has summoned Alankar Sawai, an aide of Rahul Gandhi in connection with the probe. During questioning, Saket Gokhale had said that he was paid Rs 23.54 lakh in cash by Alankar Sawai for handling social media. Between 2019-2022, he collected Rs 1.07 crore through crowdfunding, which he spent on personal expenses, sources said.

Alankar Sawai has sought for more time to appear before the agency, citing the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Mr Sawai, a former banker, is a close aide of Rahul Gandhi and heads his research team. Asked why Alankar Sawai paid him in cash, Mr Gokhale said “Only Alankar Sawai can answer this question,” the ED told court, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

The agency told the court that Mr Gokhale allegedly prepared a bogus electronic document in the name of an institution as ‘’ by which he collected funds from the complainant and other persons through a private company named GiantTreeTech Private Limited.  

The money “has been splurged on speculative share trading, wining and dining and other personal expenses which appear to be extravagant in nature,” the ED said.

Denying that he has used the funds for personal expenses, Mr Gokhale said he invested the funds in share market so he doesn’t have to raise additional funds. The agency told the court that Mr Gokhale is “not cooperating”.

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