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Air India bribery allegation against Cabinet Minister Praful Patel

Canadian Police has reportedly filed a case in an Ottawa court against a local businessman of Indian origin for bribing former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to get an Air India contract.

Police said that Indian-Canadian businessman Nazir Karigar had told others how he had forwarded a 250,000-dollar bribe to Patel.



According to a Globe and Mail report, the federal justice department is planning to prosecute Karigar on charges that he violated the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act - a law that forbids the payment of bribes abroad.

The case is scheduled to be heard at Ottawa's Ontario Superior Court of Justice in September, the newspaper report states.

A rattled Patel has sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh denying the allegations and sought his help to take up the issue with the Canadian authorities.

Patel has informed the Prime Minister that the New Delhi bureau chief of The Globe and Mail, Stephanie Nolan, had met him before the report was published and he had "in no uncertain terms denied these allegations as being baseless and preposterous."

Patel, who is now the Heavy Industries Minister has stated in his letter that the allegation relates to a tender that Air India had floated in or about 2006 for the supply of facial recognition software/machine readable boarding cards.

Patel's letter also states that "the tender remained inconclusive and was scrapped virtually at the inception. No follow up action has been taken in this regard since then".

He has forwarded the documents from Air India pertaining to the tender for the computerised face biometric passenger identification system to Singh.

The case filed by the Royal Canadian Mountain Police against Karigar also includes Hasan Gafoor, a former Mumbai police commissioner.

Gafoor conspired with Karigar to rig a contract worth 100-million dollars, the police said.

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said in New Delhi that his ministry has not ordered an inquiry into the matter, and will not do so on the basis of a newspaper report.

The case is part of Canada's effort to combat its image of being lenient on foreign corruption.

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