09:23 GMT02 June 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India's Directorate of Enforcement, responsible for the country's economic laws and fighting financial crimes, on Monday summoned former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for questioning in connection with an alleged aviation scam, media reports said.

    The agency asked senior Congress leader Chidambaram to depose the case related to alleged losses suffered by national carrier Air India following the purchase of 111 aircraft in 2005 and 2006, the Indian daily on 23 August The Economic Times reported.

    In December 2005, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government approved Air India’s proposal to purchase 68 aircraft from the Boeing Corporation.

    A year later, domestic carrier Indian Airlines was allowed to buy 43 aircraft from Netherlands-based Airbus SE.

    Both Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in 2007 to operate under a single brand Air India.

    The Manmohan Singh government approved the deal.

    The alleged multi-million-dollar aviation scam also involved suspected irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines at airports across India.

    The Directorate of Enforcement, which has already questioned former aviation minister Praful Patel in connection with the case, now wants to question Chidambaram, media reports said.

    Patel, who was the civil aviation minister at the time of the purchases, had earlier told the country’s top probe body CBI that all decisions were collectively taken.

    He said the aircraft purchase order cleared by a Chidambaram-led Empowered Group of Ministers.

    The decision to merge Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007 was cleared by an Empowered Group of Ministers headed by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

    Aircraft, purchase, probe, Palaniappan Chidambaram, money scam, Air India, India
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