PC back in ED interrogation room
New Delhi, Jan 3: Within a month of being released from the Tihar Jail after getting bail in the INX media case, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the purchase of Air India aircraft.
Sources say that the questioning took place for around six hours on Friday. Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had summoned P Chidambaram to appear before the agency on August 23, 2019 in connection with aviation scam involving lobbyist Deepak Talwar but the senior Congress leader was arrested by the CBI on August 20 for his alleged involvement in the INX media case.
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 aircraft 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 was placed, the clause was removed.
The ED sources have said that they are in possession of 'circumstantial evidence' against some 'high-profile' persons.
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 certain emails which are being treated as evidences. 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.
P Chidambaram has time and again alleged that the Government has been targeting him because he has been a vocal critic. After spending over 106 days in custody, P Chidambaram was released from Tihar jail on December 4 after Supreme Court granted him bail.