Saturday, June 30, 2018

CBI summons AirAsia India head R Venkataramanan

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday summoned AirAsia India director R Venkataramanan to join ongoing probe on July 3 over AirAsia money laundering case.

Earlier this month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had collected documents from the Commerce and Industry Ministry relatedto FDI clearances given to the airline.

A senior official told PTI that a team of ED investigators picked up a number of documents last week from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) as part of this investigation. The DIPP is an arm of the Commerce and Industry Ministry and it deals with rules and norms pertaining to foreign direct investment (FDI). Files collected by the agency pertained to the FDI proposal made by the airline and clearances granted by the FIPB (abolished later) to AirAsia so that it can launch its operations in India, the official said.

FIPB wa s an inter-ministerial body that included officials from different departments including DIPP. They said a special team of the agency working on the case will now go into the policy that existed and the circumstances under which AirAsia was granted approvals. Some other documents on the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances will soon be obtained from the Finance ministry.The ED, last month, had registered a criminal case of money-laundering against AirAsia officials and others for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence for its Indian venture AirAsia India Limited.

The central probe agency had pressed sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to probe if alleged tainted funds were used to create illegal assets and it has taken cognisance of the CBI FIR to lodge its own case. The accused in its FIR, known as the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), are same as those in the complaint of the CBI. The agency, they said, will go into the money trail of the accused and the entire deal and a joint probe by the CBI and ED is expected to henceforth go forward in the case. The agency's office in Mumbai has been probing a separate case against the airline and its executives under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

This probe in the case, registered last year, was initiated on the basis of the claims of ousted Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry's allegation that fraudulent transactions of Rs 22 crore, involving non-existent entities in India and Singapore, were carried out in an instance involving the airline. The CBI, in its criminal FIR, had booked Group CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam also known as Bo Lingam, former Deputy Group CEO of Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, and R Venkataramanan, Director AirAsia India Ltd, Bengaluru, besides companies AirAsia India Pvt Ltd and AirAsia Berhad.

The allegation pertains to AirAsia officials and others allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence for its Indian venture AirAsia India Limited. The CBI case has been registered under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and sections 13(2) read with 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It had alleged that Venkataramanan was lobbying in the government to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through non-transparent means, including the then FIPB clearance, no objection certificate and the attempt for removal or modification of 5/20 rule.
29/06/18 DNA

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