NEW DELHI : The Enforcement Directorate has summoned AirAsia chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes on 20 January in an ongoing probe against the airline. Summons have been issued to the entire top brass of the airline, both past and present, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The action against Fernandes comes more than a year after both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched their respective probes in alleged financial irregularities and criminal misconduct when the airline was lobbying to obtain its licence for its Indian operations.
In May 2018, the ED had filed a case of money laundering against AirAsia officials and others for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get international licence for its Indian venture — AirAsia India Limited.
In June 2018, the ED widened its probe into the AirAsia money laundering case after collecting documents from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry related to foreign direct investment (FDI) clearances given to the airline.
The probe agency had pressed charges under the PMLA to probe the trail of funds that were allegedly used to create illegal assets, following the case registered by the CBI against the airline and Fernandes.
The CBI had searched offices of AirAsia India and filed a complaint against Fernandes for allegedly lobbying the government for overseas flight permits and violating rules that prevent foreign airlines from controlling Indian operators.
CBI’s first information report stated that the violations occurred from 2013 to 2016, before the government eased restrictions on Indian airlines starting overseas flights in June 2016.
The AirAsia spokesperson was not available for comment on the matter.