AirAsia India Director denies wrongdoing

Posted on May 30, 2018 from Delhi ι Report #200491

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) AirAsia India Director R. Venkataramanan, who has been accused among other things of violating FDI norms in giving effective management to a foreign entity through FIPB clearance in 2013, has denied the charges.

The CBI on Monday filed an FIR against Venkataramanan, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Deputy CEO T. Kanagalingam alias Bo Lingam, the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), and also some "unknown public servants" of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Refuting the charges in a statement, Venkataramanan said: "In my capacity as non-executive director of AirAsia India Limited, I have been wrongly named as an accused by the CBI on operational matters where I had little or no role to play.

"It is commonly known that the present accusations against AirAsia India find their root in baseless allegations made by Cyrus P. Mistry and the Shapoor Pallonji Group against Tata Trusts Trustees (me included) and Tata Sons in his 'revenge' legal actions.

"Emails purportedly written by me have been circulated in the media in the context of the issue of 5/20 in the aviation sector. This has been a much debated policy matter and AirAsia India was one of the many airlines that had formally sought a review of this policy."

The CBI on Tuesday said it had received information that AirAsia India was indirectly controlled and operated by the AirAsia Group and particularly AirAsia Berhad, violating the norms of the then FIPB.

This structure was directly formalised through a "Brand Licence Agreement" signed by AirAsia, represented by Fernandes, and AirAsia Berhad, represented by Bo Lingam, on April 17, 2013 which indirectly made AirAsia India a de facto subsidiary rather than a joint venture.

As per the then FDI policy, foreign airlines were allowed to own up to 49 per cent of shares in domestic airlines but effective management control must remain with the Indian partner.