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ED to probe alleged $1 million payment in AirAsia case

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NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate’s money-laundering case against AirAsia took a new turn with the agency deciding to probe an alleged payoff of $1 million, information about which came during the questioning of the airline’s former CEO, Mittu Chandilya.

A source said Chandilya was recently questioned by the ED in another case being probed by the agency under the Foreign Exchange Management Act for alleged irregularities in AirAsia getting various clearances from the government before it started operations in the country.

After the CBI registered an FIR against the airline on Monday, the ED filed another case under PMLA and has started investigating the payoff allegation.

Civil aviation ministry officials are under the scanner for allegedly assisting the airline influence policy changes.

If the agency finds evidence of payoffs and money-laundering or involvement of a middleman in cutting deals, it may attach the assets of the company and its directors under the PMLA law, pending adjudication of the case.

The money-laundering case has enlarged the scope of probe with the ED likely to summon officials who directly dealt with the case then. The CBI FIR said some “unknown public servants of the civil aviation ministry and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) entered into a criminal conspiracy with R Venkataramanan, director of AirAsia, and Tony Fernandes, group CEO of AirAsia, Malaysia, with the intent to expedite the approval process and change in aviation policies to suit the company”.

The CBI has also accused Venkataramanan of being allegedly involved in “lobbying with stakeholders in the government to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through non-transparent means”.

Updated: June 1, 2018 — 7:27 pm

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