In a stunning turn of events, Naresh Goyal, the erstwhile luminary behind Jet Airways, finds himself ensnared in a labyrinthine quagmire of money laundering, to the staggering tune of Rs 538 crore. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved swiftly and apprehended Mr. Goyal under the aegis of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, thrusting him into the vortex of legal scrutiny. A special PMLA court in Mumbai awaits his appearance, as he grapples with the ramifications of this financial maelstrom.
The genesis of this protracted imbroglio lies in a First Information Report (FIR) lodged against Jet Airways, Mr. Goyal, his spouse, Anita, and former corporate luminaries. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) initiated this FIR on May 3, propelled by Canara Bank’s allegations of a colossal Rs 538-crore fraud.
Canara Bank, in a dramatic gambit, asserted that it had extended substantial credit limits and loans amounting to Rs 848.86 crore to Jet Airways (India) Ltd (JIL). Alarmingly, a staggering Rs 538.62 crore of this monumental debt remains unpaid, catapulting this case into the annals of financial irregularity.
The CBI, in its indomitable pursuit of justice, declared the JIL account as “fraudulent” in July 2021, leveling accusations of funds siphoning against Jet Airways and its founding stalwarts. Astonishingly, the agency unearthed a trail of financial convolution. Between April 1, 2011, and June 30, 2019, the airline is purported to have disbursed a staggering Rs 1,152.62 crore in professional and consultancy expenses.
Suspicion looms large, as transactions amounting to Rs 197.57 crore cast a pall of suspicion over entities intertwined with the airline, with high-ranking executives allegedly tethered to these clandestine conduits of wealth. The investigation laid bare the disconcerting revelation that Jet Airways disbursed Rs 420.43 crore of the total Rs 1,152.62 crore in professional and consultancy expenses to entities whose operational nature diverged starkly from the services delineated in their invoices.
Even the personal expenditures of the Goyal family, spanning staff salaries, telecommunication outlays, and vehicular expenses, were purportedly shouldered by JIL, according to the FIR.
Mr. Goyal’s apprehension transpired following an exhaustive session of questioning at the ED’s Mumbai office. This saga commenced with CBI raids on Mr. Goyal’s residences and erstwhile Jet Airways offices on May 5, as part of the ongoing investigation into the Canara Bank Fraud.
The ED had earlier combed through eight locations linked to Mr. Goyal and his associates in July, further complicating the contours of this sprawling investigation.
This ignominious chapter in Jet Airways’ storied history unfolded against the backdrop of the airline’s suspension of operations in April 2019 due to a debilitating liquidity crisis and the weighty burden of debt. Subsequently, the airline passed into the stewardship of a consortium comprising UAE-based magnate Murari Lal Jalan and London’s Kalrock Capital in June 2021, following an intricate insolvency process.
As the legal saga of Naresh Goyal unfurls, the aviation industry watches with bated breath, keenly aware that the intricate threads of this financial web may yet reveal more startling revelations.