Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel appeared before the Enforcement Directorate on Monday in connection with an investigation into an alleged multi-crore aviation scam, reported PTI.
His statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Patel, who arrived at the agency’s office around 10.30 am, is expected to face several questions. He 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.
The Enforcement Directorate had issued summons to Patel on June 1. “I will be happy to cooperate with Enforcement Directorate to help them understand the complexities of the aviation sector,” he had said at that time.
The alleged scam during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance government resulted in major losses for national carrier Air India. 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.
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 in 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.