NEW DELHI :
Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram was on Friday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for about six hours in connection with a money laundering probe into an alleged aviation scam said to have occurred during the UPA dispensation, officials said.
Chidambaram’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said, adding the questioning went on for about six hours at an agency office here.
The senior Congress leader was first summoned by the federal probe agency in this case on August 23 last year but at that time he was under CBI custody after being arrested in the INX Media alleged corruption case.
The latest investigation pertains to losses suffered by Air India due to an alleged multi-crore aviation scam and irregularities in fixing air slots for international airlines.
The Enforcement Directorate probe in this case also relates to the purchase of over 110 aircraft in 2006, costing about ₹70,000 crore, for the national airline.
The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) had in 2011 questioned the rationale behind the government’s decision to order the airplanes.
Former aviation minister Praful Patel has been grilled by the ED in connection with these decisions and it is understood that the agency wanted to question Chidambaram on some leads it obtained in the case.
Officials said Chidambaram was heading an empowered Group of Ministers for these deals and hence it is important to talk to him to know the decision-making process undertaken by the government.
Chidambaram came out of jail early December last year after over 100 days in CBI and ED custody in the INX Media case. The bail was granted by the Supreme Court.
The former finance and home minister is also being probed by ED in a third case of money laundering related to the Aircel-Maxis deal. He has been questioned in this case too.
Chidambaram had earlier described the ED action in the Aircel-Maxis case as a “crazy mixture of falsehoods and conjectures”.