BUSINESS tycoon, Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita were detained in Mumbai airport on Saturday (25) amid continuing inquiry into the diversion of funds and the source of their equity in the grounded airline, Jet Airways.
The couple was de-boarded from Dubai bound Emirates flight on the basis of an alert as the country’s law enforcement and economic intelligence agency, Enforcement Directorate (ED) is looking into Goyal’s case as his airline owes over Rs 85 billion to its lenders, The Times of India quoted sources as saying.
The federal agency, ED is now probing if funds were routed out of the beleaguered carrier.
Until now, the role of the lenders, led by the State Bank of India (SBI) is not under the scrutiny of the probe agencies.
Naresh Goyal founded company was repaying its loans on time until January.
Now, the company’s lenders have taken control of the carrier and searching for a new investor as the airline defaulted its payments to its lenders.
Speaking on the latest development which stopped Goyal and his wife from moving abroad, the sources said there were written instructions to the immigration branch that the founder of Jet Airways and his wife should not be permitted to leave India.
The couple, who are non-resident Indians, were on their way to Dubai to attend business meetings when they were asked to get off the Dubai-bound Emirates flight, according to media reports.
They have also informed that they could not leave India following a lookout circular issued by the country’s home ministry.
In India, a lookout circular is issued against a person (or persons) directing the immigration officials to ensure that the person does not leave India through an airport or seaport.
Later, Goyal and his wife were permitted to go home and their passports handed over to them.
Jet Airways is also facing many investigations by the income-tax department and the corporate affairs ministry for tax evasion and other non-compliance issues.
The company’s liabilities are estimated to have crossed the level of Rs 200bn.
The airline reportedly defaulted in depositing provident fund (PF) money deducted from the payments of its employees as well as a certain amount of the tax it had collected.
In recent weeks, the lessors have intensified their activities to deregister and repossess planes after Jet Airways stopped its all operations indefinitely last month.
Hundreds of pilots, staff members, engineers, and top executives including the chief executive of the airline have already moved out of the company.
Valuable slots of Jet Airways reallocated to other airlines.
The airline struggled to compete with low-cost carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet that now dominate Indian skies and the debt-laden carrier was forced to ground its entire fleet last month, resulting in the loss of over 20,000 jobs.
Jet Airways has debts of more than $1 billion and been in a tailspin for months.
It defaulted on loans and failed to pay many staff since the start of the year.
After its lenders declined to extend more funds, the carrier was forced to ground its entire fleet on April 17, triggering protests by thousands of employees who have been not paid salaries.