NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday questioned former civil aviation minister Praful Patel in yet another lengthy session as part of its investigation into a money-laundering probe into the losses suffered by Air India.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was called again for questioning on Wednesday, the third day in a row. The case follows a criminal complaint registered by the ED over alleged irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines that purportedly led to losses for Air India.
Patel has denied any wrongdoing. The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded statements of the then Civil Aviation Secretary and others involved in processing and finalising the agreements.
Patel was the Civil Aviation Minister in the UPA government between 2004 and 2011 when the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place. According to senior ED officials, the agency asked Patel about Air India and the ministry officials who favoured foreign airlines by giving up profit-making routes and timings.
The ED officials also sought details of Patel’s bank account and details of his properties. Patel’s questioning has come over a month after the ED filed its final report in the alleged aviation scam. In its May 1 charge sheet, the ED named corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar and alleged that he finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia. Talwar, currently in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the UAE in January.
The NCP leader arrived at the ED headquarters at Khan Market around 10 am and left at 7:45 pm. Praful Patel was told to be present on Wednesday as well
What is under probe
Under scanner are the Air India-Indian Airlines merger, purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing, Airbus for Rs 70,000 cr among others
(With inputs from agencies)