The noose is tightening around corrupt former Finance and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram. After the Aircel-Maxis and INX Media bribery cases, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned him in connection with money laundering probe into 111 aircraft purchase worth more than Rs.70,000 crores during the UPA. Chidambaram has been asked to appear before the investigators on August 23.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Delhi High Court is expected to pass order in the afternoon in the more than a year-long interim protection from arrest in the INX-Media bribery case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has demanded the Court for the need for custodial interrogation of Chidambaram.
In the aviation scam, former civil aviation minister Praful Patel was already questioned by the agencies. The case was revived after the deportation of the fugitive lobbyist Deepak Talwar recently. Chidambaram would be grilled on the losses suffered by Air India due to an alleged multi-crore aviation scams and irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines.
He is also expected to be put through the wringer on questions related to the purchase of 111 aircraft, costing about Rs 70,000 crores, for the national airlines. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had in 2011 questioned the rationale behind the government’s decision to order 111 airplanes — 48 from Airbus and 68 from Boeing — for Air India and Indian Airlines for about Rs.70,000 crores in 2006.
Chidambaram was heading an empowered Group of Ministers approved this dubious purchase of 111 aircraft. This Rs.70,000-crores-worth purchase literally collapsed the financials of Air India. Later Chidambaram also approved the sale of these new flights to Etihad at a lower rate, causing heavy losses.
Deepak Talwar is believed to the bribe arranger in this mega civil aviation deal and money was routed through his companies. Chidambaram’s role in dubious FIPB clearances to Air Asia is also under the radar of agencies.
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