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AI, IL&FS scams: ED summons Chidambaram, Raj Thackeray

New Delhi/Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate of the Union Finance Ministry, on Monday, summoned former Union Minister P Chidambaram and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray for questioning in different cases.

Long arm of the Law: Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram with son Karti.

While Chidambaram was summoned in connection with the ED’s money-laundering investigation into the alleged purchase of 111 Air India aircraft during the UPA regime, Thackeray was asked to appear in connection with the IL&FS scam.

An ED official said Chidambaram has been asked to depose on August 23 before the probe officials to record his statement.

Air India, the country’s national carrier, had suffered huge losses due to an alleged multi-crore aviation scam and various irregularities in providing air slots for global airlines. Former Aviation Minister Praful Patel, a senior NCP leader, had already been grilled by the agency. Besides the AI scam, the senior Congress leader is also being probed in two different money-laundering cases related to Aircel-Maxis and INX Media.

On the other hand, the ED has also summoned Thackeray on August 22 and Unmesh Joshi, son of former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, in the ongoing investigation into the ILFS scam.

The agency is probing alleged irregularities in disbursement of loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by IL&FS Group in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, which was formed by Joshi, Thackeray and his close aide Rajan Shriodakar, to purchase Kohinoor Mill Number 3 for Rs 421 crore.

According to reports, IL&FS had invested Rs 225 crore via equity in 2003. In 2008, however, it sold its shares back to the company for only Rs 90 crore, thus causing a loss of Rs 135 crore. Thackeray exited the team after selling his stake in 2008. Later, IL&FS provided loans worth of Rs 135 crore to Kohinoor CTNL, which the latter failed to repay.

Reacting to the ED summoning Chidambaram and Thackeray in the respective cases, the Congress and the MNS cried foul and alleged political vendetta.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, MNS had fielded no candidates but Thackeray had campaigned for the NCP and the Congress in Maharashtra. Now, Assembly elections in the western state are due in the next few months.

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