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Did Tony Fernandes falsely implicate ex-AirAsia India CEO Mrithyunjay Chandilya for refusing to lobby for the group?

Former AirAsia India CEO Mrithyunjay 'Mittu' Chandilya's lawyer has said that his client was falsely implicated in an audit report put together by Deloitte in 2016. Chandilya was reportedly implicated at the behest of AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, according to a media report.

Chandilya's lawyer Srinivas Mohanty has alleged that his client's name was woven into the audit report after he refused to lobby for AirAsia, The Economic Times reported.

Chandilya was allegedly asked to get the then civil aviation ministry to change the so-called 5/20 rule, allowing the budget carrier to commence international operations from India. The rule, an eligibility criteria, would grant international licenses to airlines with five years' of domestic operations and a minimum of 20 aircraft in their fleet.

AirAsia India Ltd. has reportedly filed a criminal complaint against Chandilya and the matter is now being investigated. “We now stand reasoned to put AirAsia Ltd and Deloitte and all those shareholders for a judicial scrutiny soon apart from pushing the same to all other investigative agencies,” Mohanty was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

A file photo of Mrithyunjay 'Mittu' Chandilya. Forbes India

A file photo of Mrithyunjay 'Mittu' Chandilya. Forbes India

Meanwhile, a CNBCTV18.com investigation revealed that AirAsia India hired Singapore-based HNR Trading Pte Ltd to assist with lobbying. The report said Fernandes asked Chandilya to recruit HNR.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), AirAsia India used HNR as a proxy to route bribes totalling Rs 12.28 crore to officials. A 2 June Business Today report claimed that Fernandes instructed his team in India to play 'dirty' to secure permits for international routes.

On 31 May, Mohanty alleged that there were tapes of conversations in which "Fernandes was giving instructions on the size and target of bribes to be paid to facilitate statutory approvals for its Indian subsidiary," the Hindustan Times reported.

“There are tapes in which Tony (Fernandes) is giving instructions on who to pay and how much, which are accessible by my client and will be used to defend him, if he continues to be falsely accused and made a scapegoat,” Mohanty was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

The CBI has asked Fernandes to appear before it by 6 June to face queries relating to alleged bribes paid to get FDI rules tweaked. The agency's criminal case, filed on 28 May, names some 'unknown public servants' of the civil aviation ministry, the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), R Venkataramanan, Director, AirAsia India, and T Kanagalingam alias Bo Lingam, Deputy CEO, AirAsia Group.

"We are planning to issues separate notices to other accused persons named in the FIR after scrutinising all the documents," a CBI official said.

With inputs from IANS


Updated Date: Jun 05, 2018 18:52 PM