UPA min­is­ters un­der ED lens over Air­bus deal

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - FC BU­REAU

SOME of the min­is­ters in the UPA gov­ern­ment could be in trou­ble. The En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED) is ex­pected to sum­mon them in con­nec­tion with an al­leged scam in­volv­ing a pur­chase con­tract of Air­bus air­craft for Air In­dia. The names of the min­is­ters, how­ever, have not been dis­closed by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing agency yet.

The min­is­ters are un­der ED’s lens over the pur­chase of 43 air­craft by pub­lic sec­tor car­rier Air In­dia from French aerospace gi­ant Air­bus.

Of­fi­cial sources said that dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ED had found that Air­bus did not de­liver on some of its con­tract obli­ga­tions. While the 43 air­craft were de­liv­ered to Air In­dia, Air­bus did not open the main­te­nance, re­pair and op­er­a­tions (MRO) and train­ing cen­tre as man­dated by the con­tract, and got an un­due ben­e­fit of $175 mil­lion.

Law­maker from the rul­ing BJP Subra­ma­nian Swamy said that he had writ­ten a let­ter to the Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) claim­ing that IndiGo had pur­chased the Air­bus air­craft at a price 25 per cent lower than what Air In­dia paid.

The CAG had in 2011 ques­tioned the ra­tio­nale be­hind the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to buy 111 air­planes for Air In­dia and In­dian Air­lines — 48 from Air­bus and 68 from Boe­ing — for about Rs 70,000 crore in 2006. Later, the CBI reg­is­tered three sep­a­rate FIRs in the al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in air­craft pur­chase, merger and other de­ci­sions of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

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