Patel seeks another date to depose before ED in PMLA

Patel seeks another date to depose before ED in PMLA

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel on Thursday did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe related to Air India's losses, prompting the agency to issue a fresh summons for next week.

Patel, a Rajya Sabha MP, cited "some personal commitments" to skip Thurday's appearance and the agency has now asked to join the probe either on June 10 or 11.

He has not been mentioned as an accused in the case but has been mentioned as a person known to aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar, who was arrested by the ED sometime back.

Sources said Patel was to be questioned about the statements made by Talwar before the agency. His statement would be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In its chargesheet, the ED had claimed that Talwar was in regular touch with Patel. It is also claimed that it was Talwar who finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia for whom he was allegedly liasoning.

According to the ED, Talwar was engaged in lobbying with politicians, ministers, public servants and officials in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways in order to secure undue benefits to these airlines.

"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. The foreign airlines have allegedly paid Rs 272 crore to Talwar during 2008-09.

"He created a web of his own entities and used the companies of his son, Aditya Talwar, in India and international offshore havens to launder Rs 272 crore received from foreign airlines. Part of these payments were made to a bank account in the Bank of Singapore, belonging to a company called Asiafield Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands and beneficially owned by Deepak Talwar," the agency has claimed.