Toronto Union Minister Praful Patel on Thursday found himself at the centre of pay- off allegations concerning a $ 100 million Air India contract during his tenure as Civil Aviation Minister, but he rubbished the charges as ” baseless and prepost
erous”, reports PTI. A leading Canadian newspaper, Globe and the Mail, has reported that an Indianborn Canadian citizen, Nazir Karigar, is to be prosecuted on charges of paying off Patel in a case in which a former Mumbai police chief also figures.
Karigar is accused of paying bribes and being involved in a bid- rigging scheme in 2007 in an unsuccessful attempt to win the contract from Air India for passenger face recognition biometrics system. The airline ultimately abandoned the plans for such a system.
According to the newspaper, investigators allege that in early 2007, Karigar met Patel, now Minister for Heavy Industries, along with one of his political allies Laxman Dhoble. Later, Karigar described to others, including one cooperating witness from CryptoMetrics, the company bidding for the contract, how he allegedly gave $ 250,000 to Dhoble ” to pass on to Mr Patel so the Minister could use his influence to make the project happen,” the report said.
Part of the movement of that money has been documented in a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York where CryptoMetrics sued Karigar, saying that it had paid him $ 250,000 on the condition that Air India contract would be signed within days, it said.
However, the newspaper also stated that there is no evidence in the court records that Patel received the money. Stoutly denying the allegations, Patel, when contacted for his reaction, said the claims of bribery appeared to be ” a perfect con job” by somebody trying to convince his company that he could deliver a contract if he is paid.