ED summons P Chidambaram in connection with UPA-era aviation scam case

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ED summons P Chidambaram in connection with UPA-era aviation scam case

In further trouble for former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned him to appear before the agency in connection with aviation scam involving lobbyist Deepak Talwar. Sources have told India Today TV that Chidambaram has been asked by the agency to join the investigation on August 23.

Sources claim that while investigating the case, it was revealed that the file for approval of Airbus went through P Chidambaram and it became necessary for the investigators to question him in connection with the deal. India Today TV has learnt that the contract to buy 43 aircrafts from Airbus was finalised by a panel of ministers headed by P Chidambaram in 2009. Former aviation minister Praful Patel was earlier grilled by the ED on three occasions in connection with the deal.

According to the ED, when the proposal to buy 43 aircraft from Airbus was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), there was a condition that the aircraft manufacturer would have to build training facilities and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) centres at a cost of USD 175 million. But later, when the purchase order placed, the clause was removed.

The ED sources have said that they are in possession of 'circumstantial evidence' implicating Praful Patel.

Praful Patel's name, who was the civil aviation minister between 2004 and 2011, came up in the alleged scam in a chargesheet filed by the ED against Deepak Talwar on March 30.

The ED alleged that Deepak Talwar was in regular touch with Praful Patel while acting as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing losses to national carrier Air India.

The ED claimed that they are in possession of emails of Praful Patel that implicate him. The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded the statements of the then civil aviation secretary and others involved in the processing and finalising the agreements.

Praful Patel, who was the civil aviation minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, when the deals took place along with the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place, has denied any wrongdoing.

The ED is probing the Air India-Indian Airlines merger; purchase of 111 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus at Rs 70,000 crore; ceding of profitable routes and schedules to private airlines, and opening of training institutes with foreign investment.