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  India   All India  20 Aug 2019  Enforcement Directorate to quiz P Chidambaram in aviation scam

Enforcement Directorate to quiz P Chidambaram in aviation scam

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Aug 20, 2019, 6:43 am IST
Updated : Aug 20, 2019, 6:43 am IST

Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel has already been questioned by the ED in connection with this case.

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram (Photo: PTI)
 Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram for questioning in connection with a money laundering probe related to losses suffered by Air India as part of an alleged multi-crore aviation scam.

Sources said the former finance minister has been asked to depose before the  investigating officer of the agency here on August 23. Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel has already been questioned by the ED in connection with this case.

The case pertains to the purchase of 48 aircraft from Airbus and 68 from Boeing for around Rs 70,000 crore in 2007. In December 2005, the then Manmohan Singh Cabinet had approved the deal for 68 aircraft from Boeing Co by Air India. A year later, Indian Airlines signed up to buy 43 planes from Airbus. The two national carriers were later merged in 2007 to operate under the brand Air India- that too is being probed by the ED and CBI.

Sources said Chidambaram will be asked specific questions pertaining to the decision taken by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) to purchase 111 aircraft. “The aircraft purchase order was reportedly cleared by an EGoM headed by P. Chidambaram and the merger was cleared by an EGoM (group of ministers) headed by another senior Cabinet member of the Manmohan Singh government. Both decisions were ratified by the cabinet”, sources said. The then aviation minister Praful Patel had already claimed (during his recent questionings) that all decisions were multi-tiered and collective, sources claimed.

In May 2017, following an order from the Supreme Court, the CBI registered three cases and a preliminary inquiry into the alleged irregularities. The ED registered a money laundering case on the basis of CBI’s FIR. The CAG had in 2011 questioned the rationale behind the government’s decision to order 111 aircraft for AI and Indian Airlines for about Rs 70,000 crore.

Tags: enforcement directorate, p chidambaram