The preliminary investigation by the Enforcement Directorate has revealed that three years after the Indian Airlines inked a deal to buy 43 aircraft from Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer floated a shell company based out of Singapore in partnership with the middleman Deepak Talwar and, another three years later, transferred USD 10.5 million in its accounts.
The payments were reportedly defrayed in two separate instalments. In the first tranche, $4.5mn were transferred to the accounts of Auctus PTE Ltd., while in the second one, $6mn were transferred. The documents accessed by The Indian Express from Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) reveal that the company was set up in August 2009 with Airbus SAS as a 49% shareholder. Asiapec Alternative PTE Ltd. held the remaining shares (11,53,058).
The ED has said in the court that the company Asiapec Alternative PTE Ltd. was run by middleman Deepak Talwar and it had links with the Air India-Airbus deal. One of the three directors in Auctus Capital PTE Ltd (a subsidiary of Asiapec) was Aditya Talwar, son of Deepak Talwar and who now holds Antiguan citizenship.
The ED had alleged that Airbus had made USD 4.5 million payment to Auctus on August 29, 2012. Another transfer of USD 6 million was made almost a month later, on September 24, 2012.
While the Airbus authorities have refused to comment on the issue, citing the ongoing investigation, the defence lawyer of Deepak Talwar has refuted the allegations made by the ED. However, the ED is probing another instance when Airbus had transferred Rs 90 crore to Deepak Talwar’s NGO-Advantage India. The CBI and ED, both have registered cases against the NGO for misusing the funds and fraudulently using the money for personal usage by Deepak Talwar which was sought under corporate social responsibility for educational and medical purposes.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also alleged that the ‘corporate lobbyist’, Deepak Talwar, who was involved in several aviation deals during the UPA regime, acted as a middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines causing the loss to national carrier Air India. The ED claims he had reportedly received Rs 360 crores to influence UPA minister and top bureaucrats to favour the international airlines. Several Congress leaders are assumed to have intimate relations with Talwar, while Digvijaya Singh’s letter addressed to Talwar, thanking him for the services rendered has already come to the fore.
It is alleged that actions of the UPA government, buying more aircraft than what was required by Air India and Indian Airlines, and giving up lucrative routes the time slots to foreign destinations, had benefited other airlines and had hurt the financials of merged Air India. Several foreign airlines had made payments to Talwar who had used his influence in the Indian government to help them get the slots and routes vacated by Air India.
The middleman Deepak Talwar, along with another high-profile fugitive, Rakesh Saxena was extradited from UAE in the same plane of the government of India on January 30, 2019. Before that, the middleman in VVIP chopper scam Christian Michel was also extradited to India. Michel, in his deposition, had named a certain Italian Lady and ‘Italian Lady’s son R’ in the AgustaWestland scam.