For­eign air­lines paid 270 crore to Tal­war

ED Probe Fo­cuses On ‘Links’ With UPA Mantris, Babus

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | POLITICS POLICY - @times­

New Delhi: In­tense ques­tion­ing of re­cently ex­tra­dited lob­by­ist Deepak Tal­war by the En­force­ment Direc­torate in re­la­tion to al­leged pay­offs of more than Rs 270 crore de­posited in Bank of Sin­ga­pore by in­ter­na­tional air­lines, be­sides Rs 88 crore re­ceived in his NGO, has put the fo­cus on links be­tween some top min­is­ters and bu­reau­crats in the pre­vi­ous UPA regime and Tal­war.

The cor­po­rate lob­by­ist, known for his ac­cess in civil avi­a­tion cir­cles, is be­ing ques­tioned by ED to fur­ther es­tab­lish the money trail where it is sus­pected that Rs 90 crore was with­drawn from bank ac­counts of Tal­war-con­trolled en­ti­ties and dis­trib­uted to politi­cians and of­fi­cials who could have had a role in tweak­ing of rules to ben­e­fit cer­tain for­eign air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers and air­lines.

Tal­war was de­ported from Dubai on Jan­uary 31 and brought back on a Re­search and Anal­y­sis Wing (RAW) air­craft and has been since re­manded to ED cus­tody till Fe­bru­ary 12 by a Delhi court in a money laun­der­ing case reg­is­tered against him in 2017 un­der the Pre­ven­tion of Money Laun­der­ing Act.

As per sources, the ED has re­ceived de­tails of at least $55 mil­lion de­posited be­tween 2008 and 2012 in Bank of Sin­ga­pore in ac­counts of com­pa­nies al­legedly “owned and con­trolled” by Tal­war. Four major in­ter­na­tional air­lines and air­craft man­u­fac­turer Air­bus, which had al­legedly trans­ferred mil­lions of dol­lars, have been named by the agency in the re­mand note moved while seek­ing cus­tody of Tal­war. The air­lines are Emi­rates, Air Asia, Air Ara­bia and Qatar Air­ways.

The ED’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion over the last two years found that Tal­war had re­ceived al­leged kick­backs of over Rs 270 crore from for­eign air­lines and air­craft man­u­fac­turer Air­bus for il­le­gally ben­e­fit­ing them by us­ing his con­tacts with the then civil avi­a­tion min­istry in with­draw­ing Air In­dia’s ser­vices from some lu­cra­tive and profit earn­ing routes.

De­tails with the agency showed that the first of such pay­ments were re­ceived by a Tal­war en­tity from Emi­rates in Bank of Sin­ga­pore on June 3, 2008, for $23 mil­lion. Two months later, the same air­line trans­ferred an­other $11mil­lion in Bank of Sin­ga­pore in the ac­counts of a “com­pany owned and con­trolled by Tal­war”.

Around the same time, Air Ara­bia de­posited $5.8 mil­lion in Bank of Sin­ga­pore, fol­lowed by pay­ments from Qatar Air­ways on Fe­bru­ary 27, 2009, for over $9.6 mil­lion and an­other $1.5 mil­lion from Air Asia on June 1, 2009.

Air­bus made two trans­fers to­talling $10.5 mil­lion in com­pa­nies con­trolled by Tal­war be­tween Au­gust and Septem­ber 2012, around the time the civil avi­a­tion min­istry placed orders for pur­chase of air­craft.

“These ac­counts in Bank of Sin­ga­pore in which pay­ments have been re­ceived from for­eign air­lines don’t be­long to my client. He has nei­ther in­cor­po­rated these com­pa­nies nor is he the ben­e­fi­ciary of these ac­counts. The NGO Ad­van­tage In­dia was in­cor­po­rated by Deepak Tal­war some­time in 1990s and the funds (Rs 88 crore) re­ceived from Air­bus was part of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Tal­war’s lawyer Tan­vir Ahmed Mir told TOI. “Qatar Air­ways will not com­ment on this,” a spokesper­son for the air­line said. Emi­rates, Air Asia, Air Ara­bia and Air­bus did not re­spond to TOI­queries.

Tal­war came un­der the scan­ner of in­ves­ti­gat­ing agen­cies soon af­ter change of gov­ern­ment in 2014. He fled the coun­try af­ter the in­come tax depart­ment searched his premises in 2016, fol­lowed by CBI reg­is­ter­ing three FIRs on Jan­uary 5, 2017, prob­ing the role of then civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter in the “il­le­gal­ity” in pur­chase of 111 air­craft from Boe­ing and Air­bus de­spite the fact that the state car­rier had ex­pressed re­quire­ment for only 67 such air­craft.

The ED, which ini­ti­ated a money laun­der­ing probe against the ac­cused in June 2017, has al­ready tracked al­leged kick­backs trail of Rs 370 crore.

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