Mumbai: Jet Airways founder and chairman, Naresh Goyal was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with alleged violation of foreign exchange law. The marathon questioning of Goyal went on till late in the evening at the Ballard Pier office of the central agency where his statement was recorded under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
This is in the background of suspicion of money laundering and diversion funds, instances of which were allegedly found by the sleuths during a search at 12 premises belonging to Goyal and a former shareholder in the airlines, across Mumbai and Delhi on August 23.
The former shareholder, Hasmukh Gardi, who initially owned substantial amount of shares in the airlines, now lives in Dubai while his premises at Carmichael Road, which was searched, is looked after by his son-in-law. Gardi’s name had appeared in the Panama papers.
In May this year, the ED had launched a probe into Etihad’s investment into Jet Privilege Private Limited (JPPL) in 2014. Etihad had invested Rs. 900 crore in JPPL which was suspected to be a violation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms as the former had picked up 50.1% stake in the company through the deal.
A separate investigation was also initiated to find out Goyal’s suspected investment in foreign airlines. The now grounded airline had secured Rs. 9,000 crore in loans for the company, of which 25-30% is suspected to have been misappropriated in the form of overseas payments and remittances to commission agents. A contentious transaction pertains to the payments made to a company in Ireland which had leased out planes to Jet Airways.
It is suspected that the inflated amounts were paid in the form of rentals to the leasing company with a purported intention of diversion of funds, which could invite action under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).