AirAsia case: Officials under UPA, NDA under CBI scanner

The CBI has registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia India Director R Venkataramanan and others accusing them of attempting to manipulate the system for airline licence and changing rules to enable it to fly international from 'day one'.

Two transactions running into around Rs 12.78 crore by AirAsia (India) officials for suspected bribery of officials to facilitate the change the rules that disallow new airlines to start international operations took place during the current NDA regime, according to the CBI.

The conspiracy took place between 2013, when AirAsia India sought government nod for foreign investment to start the airline, and 2016, covering the last year of UPA-II and the first two years of the NDA government.

AirAsia (India), a joint venture of Tata Sons and AirAsia Group, had filed its application in February 2013 and it got the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) nod for foreign investment two months later. The final Air Operators Permit was given in May 2014 when UPA was in power.

The CBI had on Monday registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia India Director R Venkataramanan and others accusing them of attempting to manipulate the system for airline licence as well as changing rules to enable it to fly international from "day one". AirAsia (India) has denied any wrongdoings.

The FIR talks about the efforts to lobby with officials to change the 5/20 Rule, which allowed only a domestic airline that completed five years of operations and having a fleet of 20 planes to start international services. This was changed in 2016 by allowing any new airline with 20 aircraft to start international services along with domestic operations.

Investigators also suspect that the lobbying by AirAsia (India) resulted in the Ministry of Civil Aviation submitting a note to the Cabinet to amend the 5/20 Rule at the fag end of UPA regime in 2014 but it could not get through as the Election Commission announced the schedule for Lok Sabha election.

As a section of airlines lobbied for the removal of 5/20 Rule, the CBI said AirAsia (India) remitted Rs 12.28 crore in 2015-16 to Singapore-based HNR Pte Ltd, whose director Rajender Dubey is named in the FIR, for a "sham contract on the basis of a bogus agreement on plain papers". The CBI claimed this amount was "utilised for paying bribe" to officials through lobbyists Deepak Talwar and Sunil Kapur.

Talwar had also mentioned in his presentation for about the strategy to engage officials", for which a payment of Rs 17,42,632 was made to him.

Another transaction that finds mention in the FIR is the handing over of Rs 50 lakh to one Sriram at a coffee shop in Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai in December 2014. This money was handed over by AirAsia (Berhad) Deputy CEO and Kapur, who is also named in the FIR. 

Liked the story?

  • 3

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry

Comments:

AirAsia case: Officials under UPA, NDA under CBI scanner

0 comments

Write the first review for this !