Will challenge allegations, says board
The board of AirAsia Group Berhad ‘strongly’ refuted all allegations made in the First Information Report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation as ‘baseless, unsupported and unjustified’ and said it would challenge the allegations.
“We question the motives of the unnamed person, persons or organisation that lodged this FIR but we will co-operate fully with the Indian authorities in accordance with due process provided in law,” the company’s board said in a statement issued from Sapang, Malaysia.
The CBI had on May 29 named, among others, AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia India Pte Ltd., its Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Deputy Group CEO Bo Lingam for being involved in unlawful activity in India based on information received from an ‘unnamed reliable source’.
It was alleged the named parties had violated Foreign Investment Promotion Board norms and had lobbied with Indian government officials through ‘non transparent means’ to expedite approvals and change policies to suit AirAsia India.
The CBI also said that sham contracts were entered into with Travel and Total Food Services, HNR Trading Pte Ltd and DTA Consulting which ware utilised for paying bribes to unknown public servants.
In the statement, AAGB said that DGCA had clarified that substantial ownership and effective control of AirAsia was very much vested with Indian nationals.
Having admitted that AirAsia India along with others in aviation industry had lobbied for changing the international flying norms, it said this was done in ‘compliance with the law and certainly without any unlawful payments’.
Besides an internal review by AAGB had given a clean chit to Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Bo Lingam that they had committed no wrong, it said.
AAGB said apart from the contract with HNR Trading Pte Ltd., other contracts were entered in the ordinary course of business under the watch of a senior former official against whom an FIR has been lodged.
“AAGB would like to reiterate in no uncertain terms that therefore, all the allegations in the FIR are unfounded and are without any rational basis and are wholly inconceivable in the context of corporate governance norms in Malaysia. Accordingly AAGB denies all allegations of wrongdoing and will pursue all legal remedies available to address these allegations,” the statement added.