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ED summons Praful Patel over UPA-era aviation 'irregularities'

Probe based on FIRs registered by CBI after a Supreme Court directive in 2017; procurement of 43 Airbus aircraft is also under the scanner

June 01, 2019 03:56 pm | Updated June 02, 2019 12:21 am IST - New Delhi

 NCP leader Praful Patel.

NCP leader Praful Patel.

The Enforcement Directorate has summoned former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel for recording his statement on June 6 in connection with the alleged irregularities in the sharing of Air India’s profitable routes with three international airlines.

The procurement of 43 Airbus aircraft during his tenure in the UPA government is also under the scanner, said an official.

The ED’s money laundering probe is based on the FIRs registered by the CBI in May 2017 following a Supreme Court directive.

Mr. Patel, a senior NCP leader and Rajya Sabha member, told the PTI: “I will be happy to cooperate with the ED for their understanding of the complexities of the aviation industry.”

According to a senior ED official, the investigations also pertained to corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar, who along with his son was recently chargesheeted by the agency for allegedly lobbying with politicians, Ministers and Civil Aviation Ministry officials for the Emirates, the Air Arabia and the Qatar Airways.

“He illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of national carrier Air India,” the ED had earlier said, alleging that the three airlines paid ₹272 crore for the job.

In the chargesheet, the agency had appended some e-mail exchanges allegedly between Mr. Talwar and the office of the former Union Minister, said the official. Mr. Talwar was deported by the Dubai immigration authority on January 31 and arrested by the ED.

Agreements for the purchase of 111 aircraft worth about ₹70,000 crore, including 43 from Airbus and 68 from Boeing, are also being investigated by the CBI and the ED. Mr. Patel’s statement may also be recorded on the issue of procurement of aircraft from Airbus. Mr. Talwar has already been questioned in this regard, said the official.

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