CBI summons Air Asia India Director R Venkataramanan for questioning

The agency has alleged that lobbyists were paid money which was utilised for paying bribe to unknown public servants and others for securing permit for operation of air transport service.

Published: 29th June 2018 10:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2018 10:14 PM   |  A+A-

CBI has summoned Ramachandran Venkataramanan, the Director of AirAsia India. (File | Reuters)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The CBI has summoned Ramachandran Venkataramanan, the Director of AirAsia India, on July 3 for questioning in connection with alleged corruption in attempts to get international operations clearances from the government, sources said today.

They said the agency has recently questioned Chief Financial Officer of the airline, Deepak Mahendra.

It is said that accused promoters of the company and board of directors allegedly entered into criminal conspiracy with unidentified government officials through lobbyists to expedite the approval process for AirAsia India and change in aviation policies to suit the company.

"It was further alleged that FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) and FDI norms were violated by said air group by giving effective management control to a foreign entity by making the said private airline (Air Asia India Ltd) a de-facto subsidiary indirectly rather than a joint venture," the CBI said.

The agency has alleged that lobbyists were paid money which was utilised for paying bribe to unknown public servants and others for securing permit for operation of international scheduled air transport services.

In its FIR, the CBI had said Air Asia (India) Ltd is a joint venture between Tata Sons Ltd and Malaysian carrier Air Asia Berhad, each holding 49 per cent shares with the rest 2 per cent divided between Chairman S Ramadorai (0.5 per cent) and Venkataramanan (1.5 per cent).

The agency has alleged that Venkataramanan was part of the criminal conspiracy involving Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of Air Asia Group, Malaysia; Bo Lingam, Deputy Group CEO, and lobbyists (all named in the FIR) to expedite approval process and change aviation policies.

It is alleged hat the "real controller of Air Asia (India) Ltd" Tony Fernandes wanted the airline venture to be able to fly internationally from day one and their local Indian partner Tata Sons through their nominee R Venkataramanan would lobby to get all government approvals including the FIPB clearance and amendment of 5/20 rule of civil aviation, the CBI FIR states.

The agency has alleged that Fernandes, Bo Lingam and Venkataramanan intentionally chose to beat the legal frameworks and policies of the aviation sector.

"R Venkataramanan was involved in lobbying with stakeholders in the Government of India to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through non-transparent means, including the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance, NOC and the attempt for removal or modification of 5/20 rule," the FIR alleged.

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