The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Saturday summoned former union minister and NCP leader Praful Patel in a money laundering case which is related to alleged multi-crore aviation scam during the UPA-era, officials said. ED asked Patel to appear before the investigating officer on June 6, according to a report by PTI.
Official sources said that Patel will be probed on certain evidence unearthed by the agency and based on revelations made by lobbyist Deepak Talwar who is under arrest in this case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Patel, a member of the Rajya Sabha, has said that that he will be happy to cooperate with the probe agency so that it understands the ‘complexities of the aviation industry’.
“I will be happy to cooperate with ED for their understanding of the complexities of the aviation industry,” he told PTI over phone from Mumbai.
The ED told the court earlier that it was trying to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines by making the national carrier gave up profit-making routes and timings.
“There is evidence including e-mail conversations between Deepak and Patel,” the probe agency told the court. According to the charge sheet, the investigation revealed that Talwar obtained undue favours for private airlines using his contacts.
“It has been alleged that officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation, NACIL and Air India, by abusing their official position as public servants and receiving illegal gratification, in conspiracy with other public servants, private domestic and foreign airlines, made the national carrier gave up profit-making routes and profit-making timings of Air India in favour of national and international domestic and foreign private airlines.
“This resulted in a huge loss of market share to the national carrier and also led to pecuniary benefits to private domestic and foreign airlines,” ED’s advocate A R Aditya had told the court.
Deepak Talwar has been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery and under various other sections of the FCRA for allegedly diverting Rs 90.72 crore worth of foreign funds meant for ambulances and other articles received by his NGO from Europe’s leading missile manufacturing company. His role in some aviation deals during the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) regime at the Centre is under scanner as well.
Talwar was booked by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department charged him with tax evasion. He was arrested by the ED early this year after he was deported from Dubai.
— With PTI inputs
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