The board of directors of AirAsia Group (AAGB) on Tuesday rebutted all allegations levelled against the airline’s top brass including group CEO Tony Fernandes, deputy group CEO Bo Lingam and also AAGB and AirAsia India (AAI). AAGB holds 49% in a joint venture with the Tatas, which runs the budget carrier AAI.
The statement noted that under the watch of ex-CEO Mittu Chandilya, “funds were illegally siphoned out of the company through…unauthorised contracts”. “All contracts entered into by AirAsia India at the relevant time were under the watch of the then CEO Mittu Chandilya… AirAsia India has lodged an FIR against Mr Mittu Chandilya,” it added.
The statement rebutting all allegations comes after nearly a fortnight of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raiding at least six AAI offices in India, including its Bengaluru headquarters. The allegations included bribing unnamed government officials to gain quicker international licence and lobbying for doing away with the 5/20 rule of allowing international flights to domestic carriers, controlling AAI’s operations indirectly through the brand licensing agreement (BLA) thereby violating Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) norms and entering into sham contracts to facilitate bribes.
The AAI board in India said it had reviewed the recent developments concerning the ongoing investigations. AAI said the investigations pertain to, inter alia, interactions of AAI with government authorities. “All such interactions were conducted in a transparent manner and AAI has not engaged in any wrong doing in relation thereto,” a statement said. Importantly, AAI said there were no findings against the directors of AAI. Furthermore, audits and forensic reports have not indicated any impropriety against any of the directors of AAI including R Venkataramanan (non-executive director, AAI), the statement said.