Chidambaram quizzed by ED over Rs 70k cr Air India scam

Chidambaram quizzed by ED over Rs 70k cr Air India scam

Chidambaram, who spent 106 days in custody in the INX Media case before he got bail on December 4 last year, recorded his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Exactly a month after he got bail in the INX Media case, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was on Friday summoned by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in connection with a money laundering probe following the losses caused to Air India due to a Rs 70,000 crore deal for buying aircraft among others.

Chidambaram, who spent 106 days in custody in the INX Media case before he got bail on December 4 last year, recorded his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Earlier, former Aviation Minister Praful Patel was also questioned by the ED, which registered a case on the basis of CBI FIRs related to the affairs of Air India.

Chidambaram was arrested on August 24 in connection with the "irregular" granting of permission for taking foreign direct investment to INX Media and related corruption allegations. He was released on bail on December 4 following a Supreme Court order.

The ED had filed its case based on three CBI FIRs registered on 29 May, 2017 related to decisions taken during the tenure of UPA government causing a loss of "tens of thousands of crore" of rupees to the exchequer.

One of the cases related to irregularities in the decision to buy 111 aircraft for Air India costing about Rs 70,000 crore to benefit foreign aircraft manufactures. "Such a purchase caused an alleged financial loss to the already stressed national carriers," a CBI statement had then said.

The second one related to allegations of leasing of large number of aircraft without due consideration, proper route study and marketing or price strategy. It was also alleged that the aircraft were leased even while aircraft acquisition programme was going on.

The third case was related to allegations of giving up profit making routes and profit-making timings of Air India in favour of national and international private airlines causing a huge loss to the national carrier. The CBI investigation on Air India withdrawing from profit-making sectors covers 12 international and domestic routes, including Bengaluru-Bhubaneswar and Bengaluru-Ahmedabad flights.

The ED had earlier filed a charge sheet in the Air India case in which it had named aviation consultant Deepak Talwar and claimed that both were in regular touch.

"He (Talwar) illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of the national carrier Air India," the ED has said earlier.

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