Mumbai: Naresh Goyal, the founder of Jet Airways, Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody was extended till September 14 by the PMLA court on Monday. Goyal appeared before the court after his 10-day ED custody ended today.
The ED had sought a 4-day extension, citing Naresh Goyal's lack of cooperation in the investigation.
The money laundering case was initiated by an FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Jet Airways, Goyal, his wife Anita, and a few former company executives in connection with the alleged Rs 538 crore fraud case at Canara Bank. The raids were carried out by ED in July at premises linked to Naresh Goyal and others who were allegedly involved in the case.
During the hearing, Naresh Goyal's lawyer, Abad Ponda, requested the court's permission for him to speak.
Goyal lists out his ailments in court
With folded hands, Naresh Goyal expressed his physical ailments, stating that he suffered from severe joint pains, which had prevented him from sleeping during custody. He also mentioned skin issues, a history of cardiac surgery with a bypass, and back problems that made it difficult for him to sleep. Naresh Goyal requested the court to allow him access to a bed due to his bad back condition. He also appealed to the court to permit him to speak to his wife over the phone, as she was unable to visit him due to her ongoing cancer treatment. Naresh Goyal broke down in court while discussing his physical condition. He earnestly requested the court to consider allowing him admission to a private hospital, like Breach Candy, presumably for medical treatment and care.
Addressing the court, Naresh Goyal became emotional, stating, "I don't know; I don't have anything more to share with the agency. I'm in severe pain and unable to bear it. My body won't cooperate." ED has supplied the court with medical papers about Naresh Goyal's present health condition, and ED claims that there are no new complaints about Goyal's health. Public prosecutor Sunil Gosalves objected and said, "We can provide basic things, but we can't cater to the accused's specific needs." The court directed ED that if needed, he might be taken to the hospital again, but ED replied that they will take him to a government hospital if needed. Naresh Goyal requested the court that he should be allowed to consult his doctor in ED custody too. ED's lawyer said that he will respond to this issue after taking instructions. Naresh Goyal has filed some applications about medical issues like the requirement of bedding and medicines, etc. Goyal's legal team also requested certain privileges, including access to his doctor, a bed or mattress, and daily meetings with his lawyers and family members. In response, the Public Prosecutor stated that basic needs could be provided but couldn't cater to specific requests.
ED: Goyal has not been cooperating
The ED demanded a 4-day extension remand, asserting that over the past 10 days, they have recorded statements from 4 witnesses. During this investigation, it was discovered that Jennifer DaSilva, Goyal's secretary, made multiple payments on the instructions of Naresh Goyal without the knowledge of the finance department. Furthermore, Naresh Goyal has not been cooperating in disclosing information about his foreign assets, bank accounts, immovable and movable properties, as well as trusts. The custody is deemed necessary from 2011 to 2018 to establish a money trail link during this period. Naresh Goyal is not disclosing the names and details of foreign entities involved in the money transfers. Jet Airways grounded its operations in April 2019, following a cash crunch. Seventy-four-year-old Goyal later stepped down as the chairperson of the airline.
Advocate Amit Desai, representing Naresh Goyal, refuted the Enforcement Directorate's claims of non-cooperation. Desai informed the court that his client had already provided all necessary data, documents, and bank details to the agency, having appeared before the ED on nine occasions. He argued, "A significant loan was taken on Jet Airways' balance sheet, which was used to acquire Sahara. This loan appears on the balance sheet but isn't fraudulent. His arrest late at night raises questions about the allegations of loan misuse. The funds were used to pay staff salaries, not for personal gain. There's no money laundering involved here. These allegations create an impression but may not hold in court. The process seemed more about recovering loans than PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act). He didn't take a single loan for himself or his family. His inability to answer questions about daily operations stems from a lack of knowledge, not non-cooperation."