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How Naresh Goyal & wife Anita were offloaded from Dubai-bound plane

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Updated: May 26, 2019, 09.49 AM IST
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Jet Airways saga: Naresh Goyal, wife stopped at Mumbai airport
Jet Airways saga: Naresh Goyal, wife stopped at Mumbai airport

Highlights

  • Grounded carrier Jet Airways' founder Naresh Goyal and his wife, Anita Goyal, who had boarded an Emirates flight from Mumbai to fly to Dubai were offloaded on Saturday afternoon by immigration authorities
  • Earlier in the day, no objection was raised when the Goyals reached the airport counter to clear immigration
MUMBAI/DELHI: In a scene right out of a Hollywood action movie, Emirates flight EK-507 carrying Jet Airways' founder Naresh Goyal and wife Anita was forced by Mumbai immigration to return to the bay, where they were offloaded, after it had already started taxiing.

Goyal’s ‘grounding’ comes weeks after his airline, the largest in India for a long time, was grounded when it ran out of financial fuel. Government sources said a lookout circular (LOC) had been issued by the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO), under the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA), as per a November 2018 home ministry notification giving powers to public sector banks to prevent wilful defaulters and fraudsters from fleeing the country.

The Boeing 777 aircraft, with the Goyals among 371 people on board, was about to depart for Dubai at 4.14 pm, said an air traffic control official. “It began taxiing at 4.19 pm, but then, we received a call from immigration authorities asking us to call the aircraft back. They said there was an immigration issue.’’ The aircraft docked into parking bay V12 at 4.35 pm.

Jet graphic

The passengers would have barely settled in, when the Goyals seated in the second row of the Emirates first class cabin were asked to disembark. Had the aircraft not been called back, the Goyals would have landed in Dubai in three hours where a limousine, which is part of the Emirates first class service, was booked to ferry them from the airport to their penthouse residence in Dubai Marina.

"Their bags were checked-in only up to Dubai," said an airport source. However, another official said that they were travelling to London. If so, they had probably planned to break their journey in Dubai.

On March 2, 2016, Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines reportedly owed banks Rs 9,000 crore, left the country for London on a Jet flight — triggering a political firestorm and setting in motion protracted extradition proceedings in the UK.

As for the 25-year old Jet, which "temporarily" suspended flight operations on April 17, it owes over Rs 7,000 crore to nine Indian banks led by State Bank of India which has a Rs 1,600-crore exposure. Officials in the government said the SFIO and the Enforcement Directorate had launched a probe against Jet.

Earlier in the day, no objection was raised when the Goyals reached the airport counter to clear immigration. "Their passports were stamped and permission was granted to leave the country," said an airport source.

The Emirates aircraft pushed back a second time for departure at 5.04 pm, this time with 368 people on board after the Goyals and another passenger, who had a medical problem, had disembarked and their check-in bags offloaded. However, the Goyals left the airport premises in a couple of hours.

An Emirates spokesperson said: "Emirates is co-operating fully with the relevant authorities and we abide by the laws of the various countries we operate in." Jet Airways declined to comment.

Jet's closure has left about 22,000 employees jobless, with a majority of them not paid salary for the month of March. Jet pilots, engineers and senior management haven’t been paid since December 2018. Two weeks ago, it received a notice from the provident fund office for the non-payment of PF dues for March 2019.

In addition to the Rs 1,600 crore owed to SBI, Jet owes equivalent of Rs 2,100 crore to Mashreq Bank and HSBC in the form of foreign currency borrowing. The other Indian lenders are Bank of India (BoI), Canara Bank, IDBI, Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), ICICI, Punjab National Bank (PNB), and Yes Bank.

The list of owners of bankrupt companies who fled India in the past four years, leaving crores in unpaid bank loans, is a rather long one. Apart from Mallya, diamond merchant Nirav Modi, an accused in a Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank scam, fled India on January 1, 2018; followed five days later by Gitanjali Jewellery promoter Mehul Chowksi. In July 2013, Winsome Group promoter, Jatin Mehta, who allegedly defrauded banks for around Rs 7,000 crore, left India.
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