PM clears Praful in Canadian bribery case

PM Manmohan Singh has cleared Union Minister Praful Patel of allegations that he took bribe from a Canadian businessman for an Air India contract.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has
cleared Union Minister Praful Patel of allegations that he
took a kickback when he was Civil Aviation Minister from a
Canadian businessman for an Air India contract for supply of
security equipment.

In a letter to Patel, the Prime Minister is understood to
have told him that the External Affairs Ministry has been
asked to convey to Canada that the contract was never executed
as it was not found to be cost-effective.

Patel had termed as "baseless and preposterous" the
allegations by Indian-born Canadian Nazir Karigar that a close
associate of the minister was paid USD 2.50 lakh for getting
the contract for a computerised passenger face recognition
biometrics system for Air India approved.

Following this, Patel had written to the Prime Minister
urging him to direct Air India to forward all relevant
information and documents of the tender to PMO or to any
agency nominated by him for a probe.

Patel had wanted that the "factual position" be conveyed
to the authorities in Canada in order to avoid any
embarrassment to the government or to him personally.

The Prime Minister said that the Civil Aviation Ministry
has clarified that the relevant tender was not pursued by Air
India as it was not cost-effective and would lower its yield.

The Ministry further clarified that all such
acquisitions were within the purview of the airline itself and
were not required to be referred to it.

Two days ago, the CBI had denied having registered any
Preliminary Enquiry or Regular Case in this connection,
following reports that the agency had begun "discreet

Patel had earlier told PTI that the bribery charges, as
reported in a Canadian daily, appeared to be "a perfect con
job" by Karigar trying to convince his company that he could
deliver a contract if he is paid.

The Canadian Justice Department is planning to prosecute
Karigar on charges that he violated the Corruption of Foreign
Public Officials Act, a law that forbids payment of bribes
abroad. The case is scheduled to be heard in September.