In a money-laundering probe related to the losses suffered by Air India as part of an alleged multi-crore-rupee aviation scam, Former Civil Aviation Minister and senior NCP leader Praful Patel deposed before the CBI on Thursday over his alleged links with lobbyist Deepak Talwar.
Patel, who was the Civil Aviation Minister between 2004 and 2011 during the UPA regime, has not been mentioned as an accused in the case. Patel’s name figures in a chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar.
Talwar allegedly was in touch with Patel during negotiations to favour foreign airlines which caused loss to the national carrier Air India. The case pertains to purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at a cost of Rs70,000 crore, ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.
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.
Talwar, now in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January this year. Patel, who had been questioned by the ED earlier, has denied any wrongdoing on his part.