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Probe agencies question close aide of Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal

Probe agencies have quizzed a former auditor and financial adviser to the carrier’s founder.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 10, 2019, 06.13 AM IST
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Agencies
jet-airways
According to sources, based on specific information, a survey was carried out last September at the business premises of the airline. Documents seized in the survey put deals involving a Dubai-based entity under the microscope.
Mumbai: Central teams probing alleged irregularities at the grounded Jet Airways questioned a chartered accountant — a former auditor and financial adviser to the carrier’s founder — about the 2007 buyout of Air Sahara and some other alleged deals that sought to evade taxes.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) earlier this week questioned Rajesh Chaturvedi, a close aide of Jet founder Naresh Goyal, sources aware of the probes told ET. Chaturvedi has been an auditor to Jet since 2003, and a long-time advisor to Goyal.

Chaturvedi faced SFIO questions over Jet’s books and various business deals, especially the 2007 buyout of Air Sahara, sources said. The investigation wing of the Income Tax department, which has allegedly found irregularities in transactions between Jet Airways & its Dubai-based group companies, also questioned Chaturvedi, sources said.

Taxmen believe the structuring of these deals was aimed at evading taxes worth Rs 650 crore. “Chaturvedi is a close confidant of Goyal, and he counsels leading corporates on structuring deals such that the tax liabilities are minimized,” said one of the officials cited above.

“Goyal sought his advice in every major deal that Jet Airways signed, including the lowcost subsidiary Jet Lite, the acquisition of which is within the scope of the probe.”

A mail sent to Chaturvedi remained unanswered until the publication of this report.

“On a couple of occasions, Goyal cited medical reasons for not being available for questioning,” the official said.

In July, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) directed SFIO to probe the affairs of Jet Airways and its group companies - Jet Lite (India) Ltd, Airjet Training Services ltd, Airjet Security & Allied Services Ltd, Aijet Ground Services Ltd, Airjet Engineering Services, and Jet Privilege Private Ltd. The probe came after a critical inpection report.

The MCA order into the probe had said that the airline was, “prima facie, indulging into malpractices, mis-management through siphoning/ writing-off/diversion of funds and other financial irregularities, including but not limited to, preferential/ related party transaction, prejudicial to the public i nterest.”

According to sources, based on specific information, a survey was carried out last September at the business premises of the airline. Documents seized in the survey put deals involving a Dubai-based entity under the microscope.

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