Friday, February 3, 2012

One more Kalmadi like conman detected in the congress caucus

2 Feb, 2012, 10.05PM IST PTI
Praful Patel faces bribery allegations over $100 mn Air India contract, denies wrongdoing

Union Minister Praful Patel today 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 preposterous".
A leading Canadian newspaper, Globe and the Mail, reported that an Indian-born 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 computerised 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.
Praful Patel faces bribery allegations over $100 mn Air India contract

Authorities allege that Mr. Karigar described to others how he funnelled a $250,000 bribe to Praful Patel, India’s Minister of Heavy Industries and a former minister of aviation.
The case against Mr. Karigar has ensnared another household name in India – Hasan Gafoor, a former Mumbai police commissioner who oversaw the force during the terrorist attacks on his city in 2008. Mr. Gafoor conspired with Mr. Karigar to rig a contract worth $100-million (U.S.), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. When contacted, Mr. Patel and Mr. Gafoor said they have no knowledge of the alleged scheme and that The Globe and Mail’s inquiries were the first they had heard about the allegations.
In an interview at his office in New Delhi, Mr. Patel said he was baffled that Canadian authorities could implicate him in an alleged bribery scheme that he had never heard of. In a letter to Prime Minister Singh published on the Wall Street Journal's website, Mr. Patel denied the bribery allegations, calling them "baseless and false."
“How can my name be drawn into something that is absolutely false? I’m in public life. I cannot be dragged into such issues and these allegations which are absolutely baseless and false,” said Mr. Patel, who repeatedly added that he will explore “legal options” about how to respond.
Canadian accused of bribing cabinet minister in India is a test case for Canada’s foreign anti-corruption law

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