- The CBI has registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and others over alleged violation of norms for getting international flying licenses
- Here are details of the FIR which has been filed in the case
While the CBI has registered a case against AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and others over alleged violation of norms for getting international flying licenses, here are details of the FIR which has been filed in the case.
The case relates to an alleged violation of norms by directors of the Tata backed AirAsia airlines for an alleged relaxation of rules in the aviation sector. The specific allegation pertains allegedly to manipulation of the rule book to obtain licenses for international operations.
The specific violation is said to be under the 5/20 rule which states that a company needs five years of experience and 20 aircrafts to become eligible for the license. It was this rule that AirAsia allegedly violated.
Besides Anthony Francis 'Tony' Fernandes, Group CEO Air Asia Malaysia, the company Air Asia, Travel Food owner Sunil Kapoor, Air Asia Director R Venkatraman, aviation consultant Deepak Talwar, Director of Singapore-based SNR Trading Rajender Dubey and unidentified public servants have been named in the FIR.
Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes allegedly lobbied with government servants for clearances, removal of existing 5/20 rule of aviation and change in regulatory policies, the agency has alleged in the FIR.
The 10 page FIR, has been filed under IPC Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) and the Prevention of Corruption Act under section 13(2) (Criminal misconduct). The opening page of the FIR says the suspected offence was committed between the years 2013 to 2016.
Here is the 10 point guide to the FIR:
- While speaking about “secret cabinet note”, the FIR says that on 27.2.2014 there was a secret cabinet note sent to “amend/remove the existing 5/20 rule for operation of international scheduled in civil aviation. Further, civil Aviation Ministry had sent clarification in the form of supplementary note on 05.03.2014 to the cabinet”
- Further, the FIR says that there was a “supplementary note” sent by the Civil Aviation Ministry at the time on 05.03.2014 to the cabinet. The FIR says “This proposal, at that time, could not be approved since Election Commission had announced Lok Sabha General Election on 05.03.2014.”
- Using scathing language against the accused, the FIR names Tony Fernandes of AirAsia and said that he was involved along with other representatives of the company “beat the the legal frameworks and policies of the Aviation sector of India.”
- Additionally,Venkataramanan Ramchandran, director AirAsia India Ltd has also been named in the FIR as having lobbied “with stakeholders in the Government of India to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through non-transparent means, including the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance, Noc and the attempt for removal/modification of 5/20 rule ”
- While disclosing the alleged scale and scope of those involved in the alleged crime, the FIR says, “ lt is further revealed that the shareholders and Indian partners at the joint venture, including the board members, were not only aware of these intentions, but also consciously ensured violating the then FlPB norms, hence violation of FDI norms were prima-facie found by giving effective management control to a foreign entity.”
- While hinting at a skirting of norms and the alleged role of “local Indian Partner”, the FIR says “ source information further revealed that real controller of M/s. AirAsia (lndia) Ltd. Mr. Tony Fernandes wanted the airline venture to be able to fly internationally from day one and their local Indian partner i.e. M/s. Tata sons Ltd. through their nominee Shri R. Venkataramanan would lobby to get all Government approvals including the then FIPB clearance and amendment/removal of existing 5/20 rule of Indian International Civil Aviation”
- While revealing the alleged nexus between the Government of India and AirAsia Group, the FIR says “source information has further disclosed that unknown public servants of Ministry of civil Aviation, Government of India & then FIPB entered into a criminal conspiracy” with representatives of AirAsia.
- It is also stated that, the motive of the alleged criminal conspiracy was “ with intent to help M/s. AirAsia (lndia) Ltd. to expedite the approval process and change in aviation policies to suit the company ”
- Shockingly, the FIR also throws light upon a sum of 12.28 crores being remitted by AirAsia to a Singapore based company “for a sham contract on the basis of a bogus agreement on plain papers, which was utilised for paying bribe to unknown public servants of Government of lndia and others for securing permit for operation of international scheduled air transport services”
- While the FIR speaks about one Sunil Kapur who was on boarded by AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes as a “lobbying agent”, the same individual in paragraph 12 of the FIR is accused of handing over a big sum of hard cash. Bo Lingam who is the Deputy Group CEO of AirAsia along with Fernandes were allegedly ar the Four Season Coffee Shop in December, 2014 where they allegedly “handed over a closed packet containing cash of Rs. 50 lakhs to one Mr. Sriram. ”
Meanwhile, AirAsia issued a statement refuting the allegations, on Tuesday:
Air Asia India Limited (AAIL) refutes any wrong-doing and is co-operating with all regulators and agencies to present the correct facts. In November, 2016 AAIL had initiated criminal charges against its ex-CEO and had also commenced civil proceedings in Bangalore for such irregularities. We hope to bring early resolution to all such issues.” – Shuva Mandal – Director, Air Asia India Limited.
Here is a full copy of the FIR: