Heavy industries minister Praful Patel has rubbished allegations of bribery levelled against him by an India-born Canadian in connection with a failed $100 million deal between Canadian firm Crypto Metric and Air India in 2006.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, dated January 31, Patel said that the allegations were baseless and preposterous.
According to the Canadian, Nazir Karigar, who is set to be prosecuted in Canada, Patel was paid $250,000 (Rs 1.2 crore) to help Crypto Metric bag the $100 million (Rs 490 crore) deal with Air India for a facial-recognition security system. Patel was then the civil aviation minister. The deal never fructified.
"Air India's records would demonstrate that these allegations are baseless and false and there was absolutely no interference," Patel said in the letter. "I request you that the factual position be conveyed to the authorities in Canada to avoid embarrassment to the Government of India or to me."
The matter came to light after Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Karigar was being prosecuted in Canada for paying bribes. The newspaper, however, clarified that there was no evidence on the bribe being offered to Patel.
"Our story doesn't say Patel took the bribe. It says Karigar is alleged to have said he bribed Patel," Stephanie Nolen, South Asia correspondent, Globe and Mail, wrote on Twitter. "There's no evidence it was offered."