Praful Patel appears before ED in AI seat-sharing case

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New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a probe into the irregular seat-sharing on Air India’s profitable routes.

This is the first time that Patel has appeared before the financial probe agency in connection with the case.

Patel appeared at the ED headquarters in South Delhi’s Khan Market area.

The former Minister had skipped ED questioning on June 6 and asked for a next date for questioning citing prior commitments.

The case allegedly involved corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar.

The ED has already questioned several Air India officials and also recorded the statements of then Civil Aviation Secretary and others involved in processing and finalising the agreements.

Patel, who was the Civil Aviation Minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government when the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines took place, has denied any wrongdoing.

Talwar, currently in judicial custody, was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January.

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.

It is also investigating how the money received in Talwar’s accounts were transferred to government employees, including those in the Civil Aviation Ministry.

–IANS

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