The Enforcement Directorate (ED) searched over a dozen premises linked to the defunct Jet Airways and its erstwhile promoters Naresh Goyal and Hasmukh Gardi in Mumbai and in Delhi in a case of foreign exchange violation. Gardi and Goyal were the Indian directors of Tailwinds Ltd, a company incorporated in Isle of Man, through which Goyal controlled Jet Airways. In 2013, Goyal transferred the shares of the airline from Tailwinds to himself.
The grounded airline has defaulted on loans of over £800 million and lenders led by State Bank of India have launched bankruptcy proceedings against it in the National Company Law Tribunal. The agency suspects the duo diverted a major portion of the bank loan abroad by inflating payments abroad and through fictitious transactions. It is exploring the possibility of registering a separate money laundering case against the company and its promoters.
Recently, Goyal and his wife were stopped at the international airport in Mumbai while trying to fly out of the country. A lookout notice had been issued against them as part of the probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office. ED officials searched Goyal’s residences in Mumbai and Delhi and recorded his statement in Delhi. Gardi is based in Dubai, and the ED searched his property at Carmichael Road in south Mumbai where his family stays. The agency will probe Gardi’s suspicious dealings, his other companies and their links to the present case. ED officials collected documents, hard disks and other material for examination. The search will continue for the next few days.
The ED is probing Jet and its executives under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). It is looking into the financial transactions of Jet, its senior executives and companies associated with them in the last 10 years. Sources said the ED came across records showing Jet had leased aircraft from a ghost company in Ireland, indicating it could be a paper transaction. Moreover, it often paid 25-30% more than the market rate for the leases.