AirAsia chief summoned by India for questioning

NEW DELHI • India's federal investigators have summoned AirAsia Group chief Tony Fernandes to question him over allegations his airline broke rules while obtaining a flying licence in the country, a police source said yesterday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this week named Mr Fernandes, the airline and others in a complaint, alleging they lobbied government officials "to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through non-transparent means".

Mr Fernandes could not immediately be reached by phone or e-mail for comment. Earlier this week, AirAsia India rejected allegations of wrongdoing and said it was cooperating with all regulators and agencies "to present the correct facts".

A CBI source said Mr Fernandes had been called for questioning on June 6, adding that others would also be called as part of the probe.

The CBI filed a complaint, the first stage of an investigation in India, on Tuesday, accusing the airline, some of its employees and third parties of violating India's foreign direct investment rules while obtaining the licence, and of bribing government officials in an attempt to get regulations relaxed to allow AirAsia India to fly international routes.

Mr Fernandes has not directly commented on the allegations, but a day after the complaint was made he criticised the media on Twitter for reporting without fact-checking. "Seriously wild stuff which are just plain wrong and inaccurate," he said.

The Indian investigation comes as a fresh blow to Mr Fernandes, AirAsia's embattled leader, who has been under fire for supporting Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak in last month's elections and is being investigated over the cancellation of flights meant to transport voters home.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline 'AirAsia chief summoned by India for questioning'. Print Edition | Subscribe