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Airbus deal: Enforcement Directorate questions former Minister Praful Patel

Praful Patel. File

Praful Patel. File  

Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning on Monday in connection with the deals for the purchase of 43 Airbus aircraft and sharing Air India’s profitable routes with international airlines. He has been asked to join the probe again on Tuesday.

Further questioning

Mr. Patel reached the ED headquarters around 10.30 a.m., following which his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

“The process will continue on Tuesday as there are several aspects of the investigation that are yet to be covered,” an official said.

The agency had earlier summoned the former Minister on June 6, but he had failed to make an appearance due to prior engagements.

Statements of several Air India officials have already been recorded, along with that of the then Civil Aviation Secretary and those involved in processing and finalising the agreements.

Based on the findings, the agency plans to seek clarifications from Mr. Patel on certain commitments that were initially made by the supplier, but not included in the purchase agreement for acquisition of 43 aircraft.

The 2011 Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) report states that the minutes of the Empowered Group of Ministers’ meeting on acquisition of aircraft from Airbus reflected the commitment that a training centre would be built by Airbus in India at an approximate investment of $75 million.

“Even though Airbus was not the leading company, it would assist in the creation of MRO [maintenance, repair and overhaul] facilities in India in association with promoters. The estimated investment was of the order of $100 million,” the report said.

Mr. Patel may also be asked about the reasons for sharing Air India’s profitable routes with Emirates, Air Arabia and Qatar.

The ED has accused lobbyist Deepak Talwar of receiving about ₹272 crore from the airlines for the job. He has been questioned by the agency on multiple occasions.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 6:44:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/former-minister-praful-patel-appears-before-enforcement-directorate/article27759858.ece

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