ED summons NCP leader Praful Patel in aviation deal case

GNS/New Delhi: ED probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is based on the FIRs registered by the CBI after a directive of the Supreme Court in 2017. Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel for questioning on June 6 in connection with alleged irregularities in the procurement of 111 aircraft worth about ₹70, 000 crore, leasing of planes and surrender of profit-making routes and flight schedules by Air India during the United Progressive Alliance regime.
ED has also approached a special court seeking a non-bailable warrant against former Airbus India chief Kiran Rao, who has not appeared before an investigating team despite multiple summonses.
The Airbus deal for the supply of 43 aircraft to the erstwhile Indian Airlines was struck in 2005, while another agreement for acquiring 68 more aircraft was made by Boeing. The total cost of acquisition was about Rs.70,000 crore, as alleged.
The ED has so far recorded statements of several former Civil Aviation Ministry officials who were part of the process.
Official sources said Mr. Patel needs to be put through certain revelations made by arresting aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar and certain evidence unearthed by the agency in pursuit of this case filed under the PMLA.
The ED recently filed a charge sheet in the case, naming Talwar. It has said that he was in regular touch with Patel.
Reacting to the ED summons, Patel said: “Will be happy to cooperate with the ED for their understanding of the complexities of the aviation industry.”

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