India’s investigation agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday summoned AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes and the airline’s top management on 20 January, reportedly in relation to an ongoing investigation into allegations of money laundering by the company.
The ED had registered a case in May 2018 against Air Asia officials for alleged money laundering and violations of Indian government policies to get an international licence for the airline’s India venture, AirAsia India Limited.
Last year, the economic intelligence agency and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a key probe agency, began their investigation into the alleged financial irregularities during the time AirAsia was “lobbying” to acquire its permit for its operations in India.
According to the eligibility norms, for a flight to operate internationally, the airline should complete five years and possess at least 20 aircraft. Reports pointed out that the company did not fulfil these conditions.
In the first information report filed by the CBI in May 2018, it was pointed out that the violations took place from 2013 to 2016. The investigation alleged that in order to conform with these norms Air Asia CEO lobbied government officials and this led to the manipulation of regulatory policies.
The CBI had then raided AirAsia offices in India and filed a complaint against Fernandes for allegedly indulging in lobbying the government to obtain an overseas flight permit.
AirAsia has not responded to the development yet.
The Malaysia-based AirAsia, which commenced its India operations in June 2014, became the first overseas airline to float an arm in India. It owned 6.2 per cent market share of domestic traffic up until last year.