Praful Patel expected to depose before ED in PMLA case on Thursday

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New Delhi | Published: June 5, 2019 8:57:14 PM

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, who was in charge of the civil aviation ministry between 2004 and 2011, has not been mentioned as an accused in the case.

Praful Patel, ed, ncpPraful Patel

Former civil aviation minister and NCP leader Praful Patel is expected to depose before the ED on Thursday in connection with a money-laundering probe related to the losses suffered by national carrier Air India as part of an alleged multi-crore-rupee aviation scam.

Patel (62) has also been named in a recent chargesheet filed by the federal agency before a court as a person known to alleged aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, who was in charge of the civil aviation ministry between 2004 and 2011, has not been mentioned as an accused in the case.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), sources said, had already questioned a number of people in the senior management of the state-owned airline and the aviation ministry.

Patel was expected to be quizzed about the statements and revelations made by Talwar, they added.

The statement of Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP, will also be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The four-time MP from the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra had earlier told PTI that he would be happy to cooperate with the ED for their understanding of the complexities of the aviation industry.

The central agency has recently filed a chargesheet in the case, naming Talwar and claiming that he was in regular touch with Patel.

It has alleged that Talwar finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia.

According to the chargesheet, Talwar obtained undue favours for the private airlines using his contacts.

The agency has also alleged that Talwar was engaged in lobbying with politicians, ministers, other public servants and officials in the civil aviation ministry for Emirates, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways in order to secure undue benefits to these airlines.

“He (Talwar) illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of the national carrier, Air India,” the ED has claimed.

It has also been alleged that in lieu of securing favourable traffic rights, these airlines made payments to the tune of Rs 272 crore to Talwar during 2008-09.

“He created a web of his own entities and used the companies of his son, Aditya Talwar, in India and international offshore havens to launder Rs 272 crore received from foreign airlines. Part of these payments were made to a bank account in the Bank of Singapore, belonging to a company called Asiafield Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands and beneficially owned by Deepak Talwar,” the agency has said in the chargesheet.

The ED had also told the court earlier that it was trying to find out the names of the officials in the civil aviation ministry, the National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making Air India give up profit-making routes and timings.

Talwar was booked by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in criminal cases of corruption in August 2017, while the Income-Tax department had charged him with tax evasion.

Talwar was arrested by the ED early this year after he was deported from Dubai.

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