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Lobbyist Deepak was in touch of Praful Patel: ED tells court

New Delhi: Corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar was in regular touch with former aviation minister Praful Patel while acting as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines, causing losses to national carrier Air India, ED has told a Delhi court.

The Enforcement Directorate claimed in its charge sheet filed against Talwar, who has been arrested, that he allegedly finalised various communications addressed to Patel on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia. "There is evidence including email conversations between Deepak and Patel," the probe agency told the court.

The charge sheet was filed recently before Special Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj, who took cognizance of the final report and issued non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Talwar's son and co-accused Aditya Talwar in the case.

The court, which also rejected the bail application of Deepak, will now hear the matter on May 9. According to the charge sheet, the investigation has revealed that Deepak obtained undue favours for the private airlines using his contacts.

ED had told the court earlier that it was trying to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making the national carrier, give up profit making routes and profit making timings.

The ED further alleged that these public officials had abused their positions and recieved illegal gratification for favouring private domestic and foreign airlines, which resulted in a huge loss of market share to the national carrier, ED's advocate A R Aditya had told the court. According to a CBI case registered aganist Deepak, his NGO, Advantage India had entered into some form of an agreement with Airbus, where the European aircraft manufacturer was to pay Euro 9 million into the NGO's account.

In addition, Deepak's NGO is also alleged to have received millions from MBDA, a leading missile manufaturer in Europe, which supplies arms for Rafale jets. MBDA is involved in the Rs 30,000 crore offset programme for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault aviation.According to the CBI's case against Deepak, Advantage India received a total of Rs 90.72 crore from Airbus and MBDA.

The ED has charged Deepak with violating norms of FCRA for diverting this amount, which was apparently meant for the purchase of ambulances, and other medical equipments.

His role in some aviation deals during the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) regime at the Centre is under scanner as well.

Deepak was booked by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in criminal cases of corruption, while the Income Tax Department charged him with tax evasion. With PTI inputs

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