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Making of $100 Million Aviation Scam: Deepak Talwar and Dirty Business of Lobbying Under UPA

Talwar allegedly used this influence to amend civil aviation-related bilateral agreements between India and various countries to directly benefit his clients — mainly Gulf-based international airlines.

Ashish Mehrishi | CNN-News18

Updated:November 1, 2017, 7:24 AM IST
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Making of $100 Million Aviation Scam: Deepak Talwar and Dirty Business of Lobbying Under UPA
Deepak Talwar received more than $100 million in foreign accounts owned through a complex structure of Trusts in different tax jurisdictions.
In what could be the biggest aviation scam of India, Income Tax Department has filed five prosecution complaints against corporate consultant Deepak Talwar for allegedly receiving kickbacks worth hundreds of crores of rupees in individual and corporate bank accounts controlled by him and his family members in various tax jurisdictions, including tax havens, across the world.

According to I-T officials, the investigation shows that undue favour was given to certain airlines and aviation companies under the supervision of senior officials in erstwhile UPA government.


After several leads, the I-T department had raided Talwar's establishments in India in June last year. Since then, the accused have been questioned several times and the sleuths have been trying to connect the dots in what appears to be a complex structure of moving funds to tax havens.

Investigation wing of I-T department has filed a thousand-page report which clearly spells out Talwar's relationship with top officials in the UPA government. Talwar allegedly used this influence to amend civil aviation-related bilateral agreements between India and various countries to directly benefit his clients — mainly Gulf-based international airlines.

"Deepak Talwar received more than $100 million in foreign accounts owned through a complex structure of Trusts in different tax jurisdictions," says the prosecution complaint.

Inward remittances have been received in these offshore accounts from some of the major international airlines operating out of India and many other entities. Outward remittances show the money being used to acquire assets in Dubai and the United Kingdom. A part of the money in foreign bank accounts was allegedly used for acquiring a 5-star hotel in Aerocity near IGI Airport in New Delhi.

The data related to secret banking activities of Talwar, his son Aditya and entities controlled by them through a complex structure of Trusts in countries like Singapore, Mauritius and British Virgin Island (BVI) in possession of CNN-News18. This data was procured by tax authorities under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).


Tax sleuths claim to have found $100 million in accounts of offshore entities controlled by Talwars.

According to the prosecution report, bank statements of companies controlled by Talwars show that $9.6 million was paid by Qatar Airways, $9.8 million by Air Arabia and $10.01 million by an individual named Abdul Rahim Al Ali.

In the past 7 years since the bilateral agreements were signed, India footprint of certain international airlines has expanded drastically.

While Air Arabia's India business has increased by whopping 750%, that of Emirates and AirAsia has grown by about 500%.

I-T probe has alleged that Talwar helped many international airlines in getting operating permit in India. The report also alleges Talwar of influencing policy changes in ground handling business to enable foreign players to participate.


When asked for a comment, an Air Arabia spokesperson said, "We deny media reports referring to hiring third party intermediate to secure traffic rights to India; such negotiations are done on a bilateral and reciprocal basis by the civil aviation authorities of both respective countries. Air Arabia distances itself from this report and reconfirms that any negotiations as such are channeled through the UAE Civil Aviation Authorities only."

An Emirates spokesperson said, "Bilaterals are sovereign treaties entered into on a government-to-government basis. Airlines are not signatories to these agreements. Emirates conducts its business as per the laws of the land in the countries it operates, with highest standards of corporate ethics and governance."

When asked for a comment, an AirAsia India spokesperson said, "We decline to comment in this regard."

Despite repeated emails, response from Qatar Airways could not be obtained till the time this report was filed. The story would be updated if and when the airline responds to News18 queries.

Talwar is also accused of siphoning off funds received in an India-based NGO — Advantage India — run by his family. According to I-T department, France-based Airbus SAS and UK-based MBDA International gave about Rs 100 crore to the NGO for initiatives related to healthcare and education.


This money was allegedly transferred to at least 30 shell companies, which were rotating the funds among themselves. An investigation by I-T department and Home Ministry revealed that the supposed payments for purchase of mobile medical units (MMUs) and medicines were bogus.

Airbus didn't respond to CNN-News18's email till the time this story was filed.

When CNN-News18 contacted Deepak Talwar for his comment, he didn't respond. Later, his lawyer sent an email saying a criminal defamation case would be filed if the story against his client was published.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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