The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday grilled Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal in connection with the case of alleged contravention of the foreign exchange law, news agency PTI reported. This is the first time the ED has questioned Goyal after conducting searches at several locations linked to him.
The central probe agency recorded his statement under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) at its zonal office in Mumbai. Earlier in August, the agency had raided a dozen premises, including the Mumbai resident of Goyal and offices of Jet Airways.
According to the ED, Goyal had 19 private companies and five of them were said to have been registered on foreign soil. The agency is probing charges that these firms allegedly carried out "doubtful" transactions under the guise of selling, distribution and operating expenses.
The agency claimed that the founder of the doomed airlines "structured various tax evading schemes involving its domestic and foreign companies, thereby siphoning off huge amount in foreign jurisdictions through dubious or fictitious transactions".
A full-service carrier, Jet Airways shut down its operations on April 17 after running out of cash. A Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) inspection report had found large-scale irregularities, including diversion of funds, at the airline, sources had said in July.
In March, Goyal stepped down as the chairman of Jet Airways. Currently, the airline is going through the resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. There is a Look Out Circular (LOC) against Goyal, barring him from travelling outside the country.
On May 25, Goyal and his wife Anita were stopped from leaving the country by immigration authorities at Mumbai airport minutes before their aircraft was about to take off for London via Dubai.
The embattled business man had challenged the LOC in the Delhi Court, saying that no ECIR/FIR has been registered against him and he has not been named as an accused in any case warranting issuance of the LOC. However, the high court refused to grant him any relief and said that if he wants to travel abroad, he must deposit Rs 18,000 crore guarantee.