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Canada report claims ‘payoff’ to Praful Patel for AI supply

Patel says allegations in the report 'baseless and false',wants probe of alleged deal.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: February 3, 2012 2:39:50 am

Heavy Industries Minister and former civil aviation minister Praful Patel has been named in a Canadian newspaper report as an intended beneficiary of a bribe supposed to have been given by an Indo-Canadian businessman in an attempt to obtain an aborted contract for supplies to Air India.

Calling the allegations in the report “baseless and false”,Patel sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him to get all the documents related to the aborted contract examined by any agency and then convey the factual position to the authorities in Canada to avoid any “embarrassment to the Government of India or to me personally”.

Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper reported this morning that Canadian authorities were “planning to prosecute” one Nazir Karigar,an India-born Canadian citizen,for alleged violation of the Foreign Public Officials Act,a relatively new law that forbids Canadian citizens from paying bribes abroad. The law applies to bribes as well as “attempted payments”.

The paper claimed that the 64-year-old Karigar was the India representative of CryptoMetrics,a Canada-based high-tech security company aiming to secure a “$100-million contract” to supply facial-recognition security system to Air India — a contract that never fructified.

According to the newspaper,Canadian authorities allege that Karigar,who was born in Solapur in Maharashtra,met Patel in “early 2007” along with NCP leader Laxman Dhoble who now happens to be a minister in the Maharashtra government. “Later,Mr Karigar described to others…how he gave $250,000 to Mr Dhoble to pass on to Mr Patel so the minister would use his influence to make the project happen,” the report says.

Patel said the newspaper report was bizarre.

“I have no clue as to where such allegations have come from. The news report makes bizarre claims and itself points out at one place that there is no evidence against me having received any money. The only reason I feel compelled to counter such charges is that because such allegations must not go uncontested. I have already informed the Prime Minister about the case. I have not decided at this point whether I would need to take a legal recourse as well,” he said.

Karigar,the report says,also happens to be a childhood friend of Hassan Gafoor,the former commissioner of Mumbai Police who headed the force during the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. At the time of this contract,Gafoor was serving in Air India as director of security. According to the news report,Karigar used his acquaintance with Gafoor to push his case. Gafoor today sent out an SMS saying “I have no such communication from any Court/Authority (in Canada). Hence,cannot comment. Anyway,I understand that the said project had never even materialised.” Gafoor has been quoted in the newsreport as denying charges of helping Karigar.

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