New Delhi: In more trouble for the UPA government, an India-born Canadian has claimed that he paid Union Minister Praful Patel $ 250,000 as bribe in 2007. Nazir Karigar claimed that the bribe was paid to help Canadian firm Crypto Metric strike a $100-million deal with Air India for a facial recognition security system. However, the deal never came through.
Praful Patel, who was the Civil Aviation Minister then, has said, "How can my name be drawn into something that is absolutely false? I'm in public life. I cannot be dragged into such issues and these allegations, which are absolutely baseless and false."
He has now officially written to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention and claiming his innocence. In his letter to the Prime Minister, Patel has said, "Air India records would demonstrate that the allegations are baseless and false. There was no interference from the Ministry of Civil Aviation or me in this matter. This tender has been scrapped in the initial stage only. I request that the factual position should be conveyed to the Canadian authority."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Nazir Karigar conspired with former Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor, who was then the director of security for Air India. Karigar also admitted to contacting him, but Gafoor has refuted the allegation.
The case came to light in 2007 itself when Crypto Metrics sued Karigar after it failed to bag the deal with Air India.
A Canadian diplomat tipped the police and Karigar himself blew the whistle, although, anonymously when his ties with the firm soured.