The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday registered a case against Group CEO of Air Asia Tony Fernandes for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence for its Indian venture Air Asia India Limited, officials said on Tuesday.
Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, also known as Bo Lingam, former deputy group CEO of Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad, R Venkataramanan, director Air Asia India Ltd, Bengaluru and the companies – Air Asia India Pvt Ltd and Air Asia Berhad – have also been named as accused in the case.
“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,” said CBI spokesperson R K Gaur.
The agency has alleged that Venkataramanan was lobbying in the government 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 the 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, CBI said. Fernandes wanted it to fly internationally from the day of getting flying permit granted in May, 2014, it alleged.
He and his 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 pte Ltd, Sunil Kapur, Chairman Total Food Services, Mumbai and Deepak Talwar, Principal and Founder DTA consulting, New Delhi and the company HNR Trading as alleged lobbyists who used their influence to get 5/20 rule relaxed “before General Elections of 2014”.
It is alleged that Dubey was instrumental in seeking appointments and facilitating meetings for officials of AAIL with officials in the ministry for getting clearances.