File status report on money laundering probe against Air Asia officials, Delhi HC tells ED
The Delhi High Court Wednesday granted four weeks’ time to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a status report concerning its investigation in a money laundering case lodged against top officials of Air Asia involving senior Tata Group officials. The case was part of the complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on the illegalities in flying licenses allotted to Malaysian-based Air Asia with the backing of Tata Group.
Tata Group’s backdoor entry into Air Asia violating all norms in the Indian civil aviation sector was the tipping point of the fight between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry. The forensic report prepared during Cyrus Mistry’s tenure in Tata Group exposed a lot of money laundering and even financing US-designated terrorist Dubai-based Iranian origin Hamid Reza Malakotipur.
The bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi granted four weeks to the investigating agency to comply with its order passed in January 2020 on Swamy’s petition challenging the flying license and Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to AirAsia. “Further time is sought on behalf of ED to file a status report in terms of the order passed on January 23, 2020. Let the same be filed within four weeks,” said the bench also comprising Justice Navin Chawla.
On January 23, 2020, the high court had directed ED to file a sealed cover of its status report after Swamy had urged it to seek a report from ED regarding its investigation. In his main petition, Swamy has contended that the flying rights granted to the carrier, which is a joint venture of Tata Group and Malaysia’s largest budget airline Air Asia Berhad, were in violation of the government’s policy on foreign investment. The main case was filed by Subramanian Swamy in 2013, accusing the Congress-led UPA Government of major violations in the civil aviation sector.
Swamy said that according to the policy, foreign investment was allowed only in existing airlines and was not meant for floating or starting a new airline, like Air Asia, which is basically a Malaysia-based company. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which has also opposed the flying license granted to Air Asia, had earlier alleged that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was “deliberately turning a blind eye” to the issue. The matter would be heard next on August 31.
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