AirAsia and Tony Fernandez: Corruption in India and Malaysia
The CBI alleges that in 2015-16, Air Asia lndia Limited (AAIL) had remitted about $1.8m USD to HNR Trading “for a sham contract on the basis of a bogus agreement on plain papers, which was used for allegedly paying bribe to unknown government servants and others for securing a permit for international scheduled air transport services”.
The CBI has booked Group CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes for allegedly trying to manipulate government policies through corrupt means to get an international licence for its Indian venture AirAsia India Limited, officials said on Tuesday.
Along with Fernandes, Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, also known as Bo Lingam, former Deputy Group CEO of Malaysia-based Air Asia Berhad, and R Venkataramanan, director of AirAsia India Ltd, Bengaluru, and companies AirAsia India Pvt Ltd and AirAsia Berhad have been named as accused in the case.
The agency has alleged that Venkataramanan was lobbying in the government to secure mandatory approvals, some of them through “non-transparent means”, including the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance and the no-objection certificate, and attempting to remove or modify the 5/20 flying permit rule. Fernandes wanted AirAsia India to fly internationally from the day of getting a permit in May 2014, it alleged.
The best bud of AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes is in hot water, former PM Najib is under siege for his role in looting the country of billions of dollars and the investigation may lead directly to the front door of Tony Fernandes.
AirAsia Group owes its success to the government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, according to its chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.
Najib had given AirAsia the opportunity to grow, Tony said in a three-minute-and-seven-second video in conjunction with the 14th General Election published on Free Malaysia Today’s Youtube channel.
But how much help did Fernandes get, and was it legal or the result of corruption. As AirAsia grew the national carrier MAS tanked and struggled to survive, now many are asking why.
Recounting AirAsia’s path to success, Fernandes said: “I started as a little two-plane airline where the whole world was against us and over the last 10 years, we’ve seen a government that helped and provided us the opportunity to build ourselves into one of the biggest international brands in the world.
“And that is not easy for a Malaysian company to be recognised all over the world. We’ve won many awards and I credit the government who had to manage both government linked companies and companies such as ours in seeing what’s best for Malaysia.”
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is not investigating the corruption case involving AirAsia and jet engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce PLC, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low said.
The bribery in the AirAsia deal was one of 12 charges brought against Rolls-Royce after a four-year investigation into its dealings with clients in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Russia, China and Malaysia.
“As of now, there is no statement that can link any party to any offence under the MACC Act 2009 regarding the case probed by (UK’s) Serious Fraud Office (SFO),” Low said in a parliamentary written reply today.
However, he said, the MACC welcomes any information on this case that any individual can furnish. But that may all change under the New Government.