CBI books Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes, Congress era lobbyist Deepak Talwar among others

The Central Bureau of Investigations today registered a case against Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes and some other persons for alleged violation of norms in obtaining international flying licenses. According to reports, the CBI has also raided six premises in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and conducting searches.

Cases have been reportedly lodged against Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, the company Air Asia, Travel food owner Sunil Kapoor, Aviation consultant Deepak Talwar, Director of Air Asia R Venkatraman, Director of SNR Trading Rajendra Dubey and some unnamed government officials.

Fernandes has been reportedly accused of lobbying government officials to relax the 5/20 rule, in which a company needs to have a minimum of 5 years experience in the aviation sector and own at least 20 aircraft to obtain an international flying license. Air Asia has also allegedly flouted the norms under the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. The CBI has reportedly alleged that Fernandes, in connivance with certain government officials obtained clearances, got the 5/20 rule removed and had regulatory policies changed to acquire international flying licences for his company.

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Aviation consultant Deepak Talwar is an infamous lobbyist who reportedly made over Rs 1000 crores during the Congress government’s era.

We had earlier reported how the Tax Department chargesheet against Talwar, a self-proclaimed corporate consultant (a fancy name for a lobbyist), accused him of receiving massive kickbacks worth Rs. 1000 crore between 2008 and 2011 for influencing aviation policies of the UPA government to favour his ‘clients’. The charges against Talwar were :

  • Received kickback of $9.8 million from Air Arabia for helping the airline secure more destinations
  • Received kickback of $9 million from Qatar Airways
  • Helped Dubai based airline Emirates to get bilateral agreements amended to enable larger passenger access in the Indian market
  • Helped Air Asia in obtaining operating permits

Deepak Talwar was perhaps was as powerful as Niira Radia if not more. His exploits were not limited to these. He was caught in several instances and in fact, his proximity to the Congress had also emerged. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s name emerged in the files recovered by IT department in 2016, from the raids on Talwar’s premises. The recovered data allegedly show that Singh and his family members were frequently upgraded on international flights, mostly on Emirates

Rajya Sabha MP and legal activist Subramanian Swamy had reportedly filed a PIL in Delhi High Court requesting suspension of international flying licenses granted to Air Asia.

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