The Enforcement Directorate has summoned senior Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel next week as part of its money-laundering investigation into an alleged multi-crore aviation scam, PTI reported on Saturday. The alleged scam during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance government resulted in major losses for national carrier Air India.
Unidentified officials told the news agency that Patel, a member of the Rajya Sabha, has been asked to appear before the investigating officer in the case on June 6 in New Delhi. “I will be happy to cooperate with Enforcement Directorate to help them understand the complexities of the aviation sector,” ANI quoted Patel as saying.
The former minister is likely to be asked about certain revelations made by corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar, who has been in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody since his extradition from Dubai on January 30.
Talwar allegedly acted as a middleman to illegally secure favourable air traffic rights for foreign private airlines in 2008-’09 at the cost of Air India. The foreign airlines include Air Arabia, Qatar Airways and Emirates. In return, companies associated with the lobbyist allegedly received more than Rs 230 crore. Talwar was touch with Patel regularly and had finalised various communications sent by Emirates and Air Arabia to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Enforcement Directorate had said in its chargesheet last month.
The Enforcement Directorate started investigating the case in August 2017 after the Central Bureau of Investigation registered a First Information Report against officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the National Aviation Company of India, Air India and unknown private persons.