CBI books Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes on corruption charges

The company is yet to get international flying permit as it currently has only 18 aircraft, sources in the agency said.

New Delhi: The CBI on Tuesday registered a case against Air Asia group CEO Tony Fernandes and others for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence for its Indian venture Air Asia India.

According to sources along with Mr Fernandes, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam also known as Bo Lingam, deputy group CEO of Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad, and Venkataramanan Ramchandran, director Air Asia India besides companies Air Asia India and Air Asia Berhad have also been named as accused in the case.

Talking to the reporters here CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur said, “The case has been registered under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) under the IPC and sections 13(2) read with 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The searches took place at five locations in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru”.

The agency has alleged that Mr Venkataramanan was lobbying to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through “non-transparent means”, including the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance, No Objection Certificate and the attempt for removal or modification of 5/20 rule.

It is alleged that to be eligible for international operations, the company was required to have five years of experience and fleet of 20 aircraft as per 5/20 rule.

The company is yet to get international flying permit as it currently has only 18 aircraft, sources in the agency said.

Mr Fernandes wanted it to fly internationally from the day of getting flying permit granted in May, 2014, it alleged.

He and his local Indian partner Tata Sons through their nominee Venkatramanan would lobby in government to get all approvals including FIPB clearance and amend or removal of existing 5/20 rule for international operations, the FIR has alleged.

The agency has also named Rajender Dubey, director of Singapore-based HNR Trading pvt Ltd in the FIR. The FIR has alleged that a secret note was sent on February 27, 2014 to Cabinet to amend rule followed by a supplementary note on March 5, 2014 which was not approved since Election Commission had announced Lok Sabha general elections on March 5, 2014. It is alleged that next year Air Asia lndia remitted about Rs 12.28 crore to HNR Trading of Mr Dubey for a “sham contract” on the basis of a bogus agreement on plain papers.

This money was allegedly utilised for paying bribe to unknown public servants of and others for securing permit for international operations through Talwar and Kapur who acted lobbying agents, the FIR said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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