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Naresh Goyal questioned by ED in FEMA violation case

This is the first time the federal agency probing the airline under FEMA is questioning the embattled founder.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Sep 06, 2019, 05.25 PM IST
Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal questioned by ED in FEMA violation case
Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal questioned by ED in FEMA violation case
MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing foreign investment in the defunct carrier’s loyalty programme is questioning Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal at the agency’s Ballard Pier office. Goyal’s questioning follows the recent multi-city searches at about 10 properties linked to Jet, Goyal and his close associates carried out by the federal agency.

This is the first time the federal agency probing the airline under FEMA is questioning the embattled founder.

Last week, beside Goyal, ED carried out raids at the premises of Hasmukh Gardi, who allegedly invested in Goyal’s Isle of Man-based Tail Winds Corporation that controls all financial activities of Jet Airways, the agency said.

“Gardi’s name was also revealed in Panama papers for holding fraudulent companies, (and) the source of the money invested in Tail Winds was from illegal activities. He now stays in Dubai,” added the agency.

As reported earlier by ET, the ED is also probing the possibility of an offence under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) over alleged suspicious transactions found on the books of the airline.

Other than the Jet Privilege Pvt Ltd (JPPL) deal, the agency is also studying a tax evasion case of more than Rs 650 crore. “The searches follow the recent meeting ED officials had with the tax department,” said one of the above cited persons.

Further, ED is probing the lease agreements of Jet Airways and is specifically looking at the alleged misappropriation in the transactions between Jet Airways and an Ireland-based company.

“It was gathered that his companies executed several transactions under the guise of selling and distribution expenses. Commission and other fictitious expenses were booked at an unrealistically high price, thereby projecting losses,” said ED. “Jet Airways executed shady aircraft lease transactions with ghost offshores entities and has made payments toward lease rents to ghost companies, which in turn diverted said monies to personal fiefdom of Goyal.”

Earlier in May, senior executives of the airline were questioned by the ED in the JPPL deal case. The $150-million (over Rs 900 crore) deal with its strategic partner Etihad Airways PJSC’s in JPPL, the frequent-flyer programme of Jet Airways (India) Ltd, is under scanner.

In 2012, Jet Airways incorporated JPPL as a wholly-owned unit. However, in 2014 after Etihad bought a 50.1 percent stake it was hived off as an independent entity. At present, Etihad holds a 50.1% stake in JPPL, while Jet Airways holds 49.9%.

The cash-strapped carrier and its founder are being probed by multiple agencies, including Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and the Income Tax for alleged irregularities. Both agencies have questioned Goyal in the case.

The SFIO has been asked to complete the investigation within six months and submit a report.

After the issuance of a lookout circular against Goyal and his wife, Anita, the couple were taken off a Dubai-bound plane in Mumbai on May 26.

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ED searches Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal's premises in Delhi, Mumbai

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