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‘No evidence Patel took bribe’

According to the newspaper,Canadian authorities allege that Karigar met Patel in “early 2007” along with an NCP leader Laxman Dhoble.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: February 4, 2012 2:21:37 am

As leaders of Congress and its allies rallied around Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel after a Canadian newspaper named him as the intended beneficiary of a bribe when he was the civil aviation minister,one of the three co-authors of the news report on Friday said that “evidence does not show” that he took any bribe.

Stephanie Nolen,the New Delhi bureau chief of The Globe and Mail newspaper,who had authored the report along with Greg McArthur and David Montero,said in a tweet: “Regardless of what you think of Patel,evidence does not show he took bribe.” Nolen had interviewed Patel for the report on Tuesday. Patel was quoted in the report as saying that the allegations were “baseless and false”.

The newspaper had reported that Patel was the intended recipient of a bribe by one Nazir Karigar,an India-born Canadian businessman,for swinging 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 met Patel in “early 2007” along with an NCP leader Laxman Dhoble. “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 (a supply bid) happen,” it said.

After he was interviewed,Patel wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get all the documents related to the aborted contract examined by any agency and then convey the factual position to Canada to avoid any “embarrassment to the government or to me personally”.

On Friday,Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh strongly defended Patel. “Anyone can write anything in a newspaper,” he told reporters.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the news report was full of inconsistencies. “Unless and until some material is coming,it is completely wrong to indict anybody,” he said,pointing out that “the minister himself has sought a comprehensive inquiry”. “Even the article says that the alleged bribery did not lead to any contract,” Singhvi said.

NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said there was no evidence in the report to show any wrong doing. “They is no evidence and the most important thing is that report says the job for which the money was supposed to have been offered was never done,” he said.

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