PMC Bank case: Praful Patel used Wadhawans' aircraft eight times, says ED

Praful Patel used the aircraft multiple times in 2012 when he was civil aviation minister
Trouble is mounting for former Union minister Praful Patel, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) finding his name on the passenger manifest of an aircraft that belongs to the Wadhawans, HDIL promoters.

The documents examined by the ED, which is probing the Rs 4,355-crore Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank loan case, show that Patel used the aircraft multiple times in 2012 when he was  civil aviation minister.

The probe agency, in this case, has seized two aircraft — Bombardier Challenger-300 VT and Falcon 2000 VT, owned by Privilege Airways. Rakesh Wadhawan and son Sarang Wadhawan of Housing Development & Infrastructure (HDIL) are directors of Privilege Airways.

According to ED sources, Patel had used the aircraft at least eight times in 2012 between February and May. The documents showed that the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was accompanied by some other party leaders during these trips. The destinations were mostly Mumbai to Nagpur, Delhi, and Gondia. 

So far, the ED has attached and identified assets worth Rs 3,830 crore in the PMC money laundering case. These assets belong to its directors, promoters, PMC Bank officials, and others. The assets, both immovable and movable, will be attached under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after valuation, it said. 

During the search in the case, ED has reportedly found incriminating documents revealing instances of siphoning of the funds and their misuse. Certain transactions are showing a clear diversion, such as a Rs 98-crore loan from PMC Bank was diverted to M Estate Developers, a proprietorship concern of a close business associate of Rakesh Wadhawan. The Mumbai Police EOW has already arrested the Wadhawans in connection with the case, besides former MD of PMC Bank Joy Thomas.

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