ED grills Pra­ful again, he re­mains ‘eva­sive’

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - DNA Cor­re­spon­dent cor­re­spon­[email protected]­dia.net

New Delhi: For­mer Civil Avi­a­tion Min­is­ter Pra­ful Pa­tel was grilled on Tues­day for sec­ond con­sec­u­tive day in con­nec­tion shar­ing of Air In­dia’s prof­itable routes with in­ter­na­tional air­lines. He was ques­tioned for eight hours and has been asked to join in­ves­ti­ga­tion on Wed­nes­day also.

The En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED) is record­ing Pa­tel’s state­ment un­der the Pre­ven­tion of Money Laun­der­ing Act at the agency’s head­quar­ters here in the multi-crore air­line seat shar­ing scam.

“He has re­mained eva­sive dur­ing ques­tion­ing. We have called him again,” said a top ED of­fi­cer adding there are “cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dences of his role”. The ED stated they are ver­i­fy­ing de­tails.

The agency has claimed that many de­ci­sions were taken dur­ing his ten­ure as civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter to ben­e­fit pri­vate air­lines. “We have wit­nesses’ state­ments and are ver­i­fy­ing it,” the of­fi­cer stated

Pa­tel was ques­tioned about the rea­sons for shar­ing of Air In­dia’s prof­itable routes with three in­ter­na­tional air­lines, Emi­rates, Air Ara­bia & Qatar.

The agency has ac­cused lob­by­ist Deepak Tal­war of re­ceiv­ing about Rs 272 crore from the air­lines for the job. The agency al­leged that Tal­war

was in reg­u­lar touch with Pa­tel. The agency claimed that Tal­war al­legedly fi­nalised var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions ad­dressed to Pa­tel on be­half of Emi­rates and Air Ara­bia. “There is evidence in­clud­ing e-mail con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Deepak and Pa­tel,” stated ED adding Tal­war also ob­tained un­due favours for the pri­vate air­lines us­ing his con­tacts.

—PTI

Pra­ful Pa­tel at the ED of­fice

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